Hamilton and Halton Catholic School Boards do the right thing for the Pride Flag

On more than one occasion in the past, we have criticized the Hamilton and Halton Catholic School Boards for refusing to fly the Pride Flag during the month of June, designated as Pride Month.

Now that both councils have reversed earlier decisions and the flag will fly over separate schools and council offices in Halton and Hamilton, it’s time to pay tribute where it’s due.

This decision was never a question of ideology, in our opinion. It’s not about being progressive or the other way around. It’s much simpler than that. It’s about basic humanity, about being welcoming to all, including staff, students, and families who are part of or support LGBTQ and Two-Spirit communities.

The thing is, flying the Pride flag, especially in June, sends a message to these communities that they are recognized and welcomed. They are seen and heard. They haven’t always been. They have sometimes been repressed, condemned or ignored in the past, which makes this visible manifestation of institutional and community recognition more important.

Conversely, the refusal to fly the flag does the opposite. Defenders of the status quo may argue that the cross, or some other symbol, is sufficient to demonstrate inclusiveness. They miss the point. Something less than waving the flag might work for them or like-minded people. But that’s not good for people who live directly in LGBTQ and Two-Spirit communities, go to school, and just go about their lives.

Hamilton Administrator Mark Valvasori, who introduced the motion, introduced it thus at the March 1 meeting: “We can’t say ‘everyone belongs’… But, if these students don’t don’t believe, so I think it’s time to show them that it’s true.

In an email to The Spec, Valvasori said more: “So many people have contacted me over the past year regarding the theft of the Pride flag. I have listened to their pleas for and against… He It just seemed like the time. There are a lot of young students out there who are hurting, and it seemed like the logical thing to do to show our acceptance and support and give them hope.

In Halton, the decision to fly the flag was made at a January 19 board meeting. After a contentious meeting, the council voted to overturn its previous policy which had drawn fire from within and outside its community.

Administrator Brenda Agnew introduced the motion and had this to say about it: “This proposal to raise the Pride Flag is to actively show through a universal symbol our support for our staff, students, families and communities. members of the community, that our schools are a safe place where they belong and they are always welcome.

It’s not an easy decision for the administrators who supported him. The issue remains controversial in the Catholic community, and that likely won’t change just because both councils approved flying the flag. But ethically and morally, it’s the right thing to do, and the administrators who support the decision are to be commended.

Vaccination drops, COVID cases rise…

We hate to be the ones raining down on the COVID-19 Farewell Parade, but there are growing signs that we shouldn’t stop worrying just yet. It seems no one told the virus it was leaving town.

At the same time that sewage monitoring tests show a potential increase in cases in central Ontario, which includes Hamilton, our city’s vaccination rates are dropping like a stone. In December, health workers were vaccinating 10,000 a day, but that figure has now fallen well below 1,000.

That might be fine if our population’s vaccination rate were comfortably high, but it’s not. Just over half of adults aged 18 and over have received a booster shot. Children aged 5 to 11 have the lowest rates, with about half having one shot and a third having two. And recall rates lag behind, particularly for 18-29 year olds, where only 40% received three doses.

And we have the Omicron sub-variant known as BA.2 – called Stealth Omicron – which is expected to become the dominant strain by mid-March.

What to do? We must continue to talk about vaccination, it is the best tool we have. And we must continue to take care of ourselves. And we have to suspend the parade, for now.