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Saskatoon Bishop backs Catholic schools' stance on 'Rainbow Tent'


Saskatoon’s Roman Catholic diocese is defending the city’s Catholic school administrators in the wake of protests over an internal email that leaked on social media on Thursday.

The message to school principals from Greater Saskatoon Catholic School (GSCS) Superintendent Tom Hickey said to keep students away from a LGBTQ2S+-themed "Rainbow Tent" at the upcoming Nutrien Children's Festival of Saskatchewan. In the email, Hickey said allowing students to visit the tent would not be "supported."

The Greater Saskatoon Catholic School (GSCS) division is facing accusations of bigotry after a screenshot of an email purported to be from the superintendent circulated widely online Thursday.

A spokesperson for the diocese said that although the organization works collaboratively with the school division on the “pastoral care” of students, there was no explicit instruction from the diocese regarding the Rainbow Tent.

Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen told CTV News in a statement that he supports the school division in this effort.

“I support Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, administration, teachers and staff as they navigate difficult moral and social issues — especially as they affect the lives and well-being of children, young people and their families – as they strive to be faithful to the mission and identity of a Catholic school,” Hagemoen said.

The Catholic school division's email was met with criticism online by many who felt it was intolerant. On Monday morning, the GSCS downtown office was hit with an apparent act of vandalism, the front windows splattered with fluorescent paint and butterfly, unicorn and flower stickers. The sidewalk in front of the office had a rainbow and messages like "we all belong" and "it's queer here, too" scrawled with chalk.

On Tuesday, the union representing all teachers in Saskatchewan cautioned against policies and directives that exclude people on the basis of sexuality or gender.

The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) cited 2018 data from Statistics Canada that says 30 per cent of those who identify as LGBTQ2S+ are between the ages of 15 and 24-years-old.

“Policies and directives in schools that are not inclusive, or are even discriminatory, directly impact a significant number of students and their families,” STF President Samantha Becotte said in a news release.

“This alienates them and removes their ability to feel safe and accepted for who they are.”

The Nutrien Children’s Festival runs from June 1 to 4 at Kinsmen Park in Saskatoon. Top Stories

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