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August 4, 2011 The Honourable Leona Dombrowsky Minister Ministry of Education Mowat Block, 22nd Flr, 900 Bay

St Toronto, ON M7A 1L2 Dear Minister Dombrowsky, We are writing to you today regarding Premier McGuintys announcement during Toronto Pride Week that mandates both Public and Catholic schools to allow students to start up LGBT Support Groups. While we view this as a step in the right direction, it also leaves us with many unanswered questions. As this issue has unfolded, you have continually refused to enforce your own pre-existing Policy (PPM 145) that mandates school boards to support students who wish to start a GSA. Given your unassertive stance, which lets school boards decide the form and content of these groups, our organizations feel this latest announcement is a vague political promise that in no way addresses the questions we have been asking in our collective efforts to establish GSAs in all publically funded schools. lt also fails to explain how or why you continue to sidestep pre-existing Policy that supports students' right to uncensored peer-led support groups. As such, your announcement raises the following questions: - How does the Ministry of Education plan to mandate School Boards across the province to allow LGBT support groups, while facing the resistance that will inevitably come from social and moral conservatives? How will the Ministry of Education ensure that this promise to mandate LGBT support groups is not shelved as a result of a conservative backlash, as was the case with the improved Health & Physical Education Curriculum introduced last year? - What exactly is meant by 'LGBT support group'? Will these groups be formed and directed by students, be it independently or with the guidance of a teacher; or will these groups be created and directed by school administrators? - Does the Ministry's support for these LGBT support groups also include a support for "Gay-Straight Alliances" (thus named) and the use of rainbows and/or the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual" and "trans," "transgender," "transsexual," or any other similar word to identify and name these groups? Will the Ministry put an end to the censorship of such words and imagery by Catholic School Boards? - How will the Ministry ensure that no students are banned from forming LGBT support groups in their schools; What does the Ministry plan to do with schools boards that fail to comply with this announcement; and What resources does the Ministry plan to provide to students who are thinking of establishing an LGBT support group -- and to those who have managed to form one? - Does the Ministry plan to keep a record of all the LGBT support groups that have been formed within the province to ensure that they are all being given adequate support from their school boards? * - What role will support documents such as the Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same Sex Orientation play in the formation of LGBT "support groups" within the Catholic school system? Does the Ministry plan on banning such blatantly discriminatory guidelines?

- Lastly: Why does the Ministry plan on implementing this program in September and not now, when course calendars are being written and printed for the 2011-2012 school year? We think enough is enough. If you are serious about supporting LGBTQ students, simply enforce your existing PPM 145 and remove the Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same Sex Orientation from Catholic schools. We are requesting a meeting with both yourself and Premier McGuinty to discuss moving forward on the issue of properly supporting LGBTQ youth. We look forward to your prompt response.

Yours truly, Leanne Iskander Co-ordinator Catholic Students for GSAs Casey Oraa Chair Political Action Committee Queer Ontario

Cc:

The Right Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director, Equality Program, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Ontario Human Rights Commission

* Note: A conversation between Queer Ontario and the Ministry of Education on February 9, 2011 revealed that the Ministry has no records of GSAs and doesnt track them.