Promoting Acceptance in Ottawa Catholic Schools

On January 18, 2014, the Jer’s Vision team, some local politicians and speakers, and students from the Ottawa Catholic School Board sat down for the Though many we are one’ initiative in Ottawa City Hall, which was designed to help LGBTQ Catholic students address homophobia and transphobia in their schools and communities.

The event started out with guest speakers such as Mayor Jim Watson, Jeremy Dias, MPP Yasir Naqvi, and Hannah Watt from Capital Pride, who spoke about youth initiatives in the community. 

Yasir Naqvi spoke about provincial legislation, especially Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, which allows students in any Ontario school to create their own GSA, and that schools cannot discriminate in any way based on sexual orientation. Naqvi spoke about the importance of including words like  ‘gay’ and ‘sexual orientation’ directly into the Act, to make the law was clear, and schools would have to be safe spaces for all students – Catholic or otherwise.

After a delicious catered lunch, Jeremy led a discussion with the students concerning the situations LGBTQ Catholic students face, and how to deal with them. This discussion lasted through the rest of the time, and it was very informative and enlightening for everyone, especially the students and even some educators who were present.

At the end of the day, all the notes written down during the discussion went back to Jer’s Vision with the purpose of turning it into a letter to the Ottawa Catholic School Board, detailing all the changes and actions needed to make schools a safer space for all. The students left feeling informed and confident that they could go to school the next day feeling more secure, and more like themselves.