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Saskatoon students say high school is censoring Pride week

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Students at a Catholic school in Saskatoon say their high school is restricting and censoring Pride week celebrations.

Members of the Youth Alliance Club at Holy Cross High School told CTV News strict directives have been laid out regarding how staff should handle the week celebrating LGBTQ2S+ diversity.

Pride Week must be called “We All Belong Week” and there cannot be any school-wide events or announcements, according to members of the club.

“Students are not allowed to speak over the intercoms and address the problems or the joys that we experience from being queer. Only adults are allowed to speak,” Tailor Schubert, a Grade 11 student at Holy Cross, told CTV News.

Schubert was told the rules were put in place to appease teachers and students “who are uncomfortable with the existence of queer students,” but it in turn, Schubert believes LGBTQ2S+ voices are being silenced.

We All Belong Week events must take place in a separate room — instead of an open space, like a cafeteria — according to Schubert.

“I feel we're being treated unfairly,” Schubert said.

ERASED FROM YEARBOOK

Schubert said the Youth Alliance Club was also left out of the yearbook because the photo featured the Pride flag.

The students suggested editing out the flag, but the club said the idea was rejected.

“We’re just being pushed to the side and I wish we could celebrate ourselves freely,” said Emmerson, a Grade 10 student at Holy Cross.

In an email to CTV News, Derrick Kunz, a spokesperson for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) said he doesn’t know why the Youth Alliance Club was left out of the yearbook and wasn’t able to reach the principal.

“All students, no matter their circumstance or how they identify, are welcomed and supported — especially students who are marginalized,” Kunz wrote in an email.

“We are all beloved children of God, so the notion that all belong is how inclusion is commonly expressed.”

Members of the Holy Cross Youth Alliance Club are shown in a photo. (Laura Woodward/CTV News)

Last week, an internal email from the school division’s superintendent of education, Tom Hickey, was leaked. Hickey told Catholic elementary school principals to keep students away from the Pride-themed Rainbow Tent at the Nutrien Children’s Festival of Saskatchewan.

The email prompted a strong backlash from parents, students and the unions representing teachers and support staff at Catholic schools. On Thursday, protestors converged on the GSCS head office.

While speaking with protestors, Hickey acknowledged “a trust has been broken.”

Protestors asked Hickey what steps the division is taking to move forward.

Hickey said he’s looking forward to working with staff about ”how to support students and better welcome them into our schools.”

At the start of the week, the office's windows were splattered with fluorescent paint and covered with heart and unicorn stickers.

The paint was still visible on the office's windows during the protest Thursday afternoon. 

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