Most people could probably get behind school bans on certain symbols like the swastika or the Confederate flag. But the rainbow?
Some Catholic schools in Ontario are deterring the use of rainbows because they are considered too politically charged, according to The Toronto Star.
The Dufferin-Peel Catholic board told The Star that the rainbow flag, regarded as a symbol of unity in support of gay pride, wasn’t banned outright, but that the use of a different logo was preferred during a recent anti-homophobia event at St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga.
Board spokesman Bruce Campbell said the alternative logo had been designed in the school, “and the staff adviser indicated to use the in-house design rather than the rainbow flag.”
(The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, meanwhile, told The Star it hadn’t heard of any restrictions on rainbows and that the boards did not have any issues with them.)
A student at the school, however, told the gay and lesbian newspaper Xtra! students were prevented from displaying rainbows.
“We brought signs and posters with rainbows, and we were told that we can’t put them up,” Leanne Iskander, 16, who started St. Joseph’s unofficial gay-straight alliance, told Xtra.
The students hid their message inside rainbow cupcakes instead, Xtra said.
Casey Oraa, chair of the advocacy network Queer Ontario, told Xtra the rejection of the rainbow symbol reflected the Catholic school board’s treatment of gays and lesbians, noting: “Nothing the schools do surprises me any more.”
Student gay-straight alliances have struggled for recognition within Catholic schools. In January, the Halton Catholic board came under fire when its chair defended a decision to ban such clubs.
Separately, Toronto comedian Dawn Whitwell told Globe reporter Kate Hammer that she was barred from performing this week at Bishop Marrocco-Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School because board officials did not approve of her marriage to another woman.