After backlash from pro-family and pro-life groups, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) reversed its decision to fly a homemade pro-LGBT banner. But an image of the banner, along with a supportive message, remains on the school board's website as of Wednesday morning.
The banner shows a stick-figure-like image of Jesus with outstretched hands in front of similarly drawn figures in different colors of the rainbow. The message below the image reads, "We are all wonderfully made" and includes a quote from 1 John 4:19: "We love because he first loved us."
An explanation below the image reads, "For many years, the WCDSB has embraced the vision of Waterloo Region's Catholic schools being 'Heart of the community,' fostering 'success for each' and creating 'a place for all.'"
"To bring that vision to life, the WCDSB has prioritized equity, inclusion and belonging in the school board's multi-year strategic plan, as well as the board's pastoral plan and well-being plan," the explanation continues. "As Catholics, we believe that we are wonderfully made in the image and likeness of a God who created us and loves us unconditionally — just as we are."
Explaining its participation in "Pride Month," the board's statement concludes: "The month of June is designated as Pride Month across the province of Ontario ... This month, and each and every month, our Catholic schools are committed to nurturing safe and inclusive learning environments where every student and every member of the community is welcomed, valued and respected."
Despite reversing its decision to fly its pro-gay homemade banner, the WCDSB is now consulting with the LGBT community on ways to "celebrate pride" next year, according to Kitchener Today, part of the Village Media network based in Ontario.
The WCDSB is in the diocese of Hamilton, which recently hosted a talk for its Why@Breakfast series titled, "Gender, Sexuality and the Catholic Church." Teresa Hartnett, director of family ministry for the diocese, gave the talk online.
Hartnett said the Catholic school system would comply with students asking to be referred to by pronouns other than their biological ones.
"We are teaching them; we're not denying our teachings, but we're also not there to tell them who they should be and how they should be," she said.
Church Militant reached out to the Hamilton diocese for comment but received no response as of press time.
Meanwhile, the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board (TBCDSB) in the province of Ontario has raised a "pride flag" on its grounds.
"In flying the pride flag, we proudly acknowledge and embrace our differences and our similarities, which make us unique. Our Board has always been a safe and inclusive environment for all students and staff," reads the TBCDSB's statement. "It is our hope and ultimate goal, to provide an environment where everyone feels valued, included, respected, dignified and loved. This is the reason why we have raised the flag."
"As people of faith, we are led by example, especially that of Pope Francis," the statement continues. "We do not judge, we do not exclude and we always show love and compassion. At Thunder Bay Catholic, we believe every child belongs, and every student will succeed in our safe and inclusive spaces."
Church Militant reached out to the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and the Thunder Bay diocese for comment but received no response as of press time.
Some Catholics wonder how much these school boards are helping the Canadian government in its efforts to outlaw Catholic teaching on human sexuality.
Reactions to the school boards have been mixed.
Regarding the WCDSB decision not to fly its homemade "pride" banner, Anna Magnone said on Facebook: "Disappointed and disgusted that you will not fly the pride flag. How many students do you think are gay in the schools, how do you think they feel when the school that they attend doesn't support their lifestyle. It’s a flag, it shows solidarity."
"I'm so happy with the progress that is happening here!!! I would have never expected the TBCDSB to be on board with this during the time I was in the schools! Well done and thank you!" said Alicia Sandham on Facebook regarding the board's flying of the "pride" flag.
"[I'm] not impressed that the flag is being flown, supporting same-sex relationships that the Bible the school is supposed to teach from calls 'sin,'" said Sebai Yaman. "I teach my kids (who attend Catholic school) to love everyone, as our family does (which includes having friends who are same-sex attracted), but flying the flag says we accept this as a Church, which doesn't line up with what the Catholic Church says on this issue."
While some Canadian Catholic school boards demonstrate devotion to "pride," faithful Catholics are celebrating devotion to the Sacred Heart.
"We make reparation for the indifference and ingratitude with which He is treated and for leaving Him abandoned by humanity," according to religious order the Sisters of Carmel.
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart occurs on Friday, June 19.