Toronto District School Board backs public nudity at Pride parade
TORONTO, April 15, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a move that has outraged many parents, last Wednesday the Toronto District School Board voted 16-6 against asking the City of Toronto to uphold Canadian nudity laws at the WorldPride parade on June 29.
Every year the parade includes marchers in various objectionable sexualized garb, such as sadomasochistic clothing, as well as topless women, and even full frontal nudity.
TDSB trustee Sam Sotiropoulos had presented a motion asking the Board to write an official letter to the mayor and Toronto City Council to ask “whether or not the public nudity law of Canada will be upheld and enforced at future Pride events in which the TDSB participates.”
His motion was decisively defeated by the school board, which did not debate the matter, but rather forced a snap vote on it. The motion’s failure was met with cheers from gathered parade supporters.
Instead, a motion of support for the Parade was passed. It encouraged children to support the parade as “a celebration and a political event that has greatly added to the richness of the city of Toronto.”
Sotiropoulos told AM640 that he did not consider his motion’s defeat as loss. “It was a victory,” he said, “a small miracle,” that six trustees actually voted for it. He said that last year none had voted in support and hopes that next year his motion will succeed.
Sotiropoulos has faced strong opposition from trustees, teachers, and ratepayers. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation has called on the Toronto District School Board to launch an investigation into his conduct.
On the other hand, Brian Lilley of Sun News has called the TDSB “a bizarre, sick and twisted organization that suffers from a lack of sane leadership.”
Although trustees had stated that it was not the board’s place to “meddle in the affairs of the police or city council,” the board has been sponsoring a group in the Pride parade for the last eighteen years at a cost of around $8000 a year.
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The board’s education director, Donna Quan, had defended the board’s participation in the parade in an email to school board staff. She said nudity at the parade “started as a liberation protest that rejects shame, bias and judgments for people celebrating themselves for who they are.”
This issue can be expected to be prominent in the next municipal election, set for October 27. Sotiropoulos will be running against John Furr, who has called him a “coward” and a “homophobe” for his position. Although his motion was unpopular with the trustees, Sotiropoulos says he has received hundreds of emails of support.
Section 174 of the Canadian Criminal Code forbids public nudity, where it offends against public decency or order, a law that many say is exceedingly vague.
Section 173.2 states, “Every person who, in any place, for a sexual purpose, exposes his or her genital organs to a person who is under the age of 16 years” is guilty of an indictable offense.
Sotiropoulos and other critics of nudity at the parade highlight the fact that it is often billed as “family friendly,” a point they note is supported by the TDSB’s own participation in the event.
However, some defenders have insisted the parade was never intended to be family-oriented.
“What Sotiropoulos and others who moan over whether Pride is ‘family friendly’ fail to appreciate is that in-your-face sexuality is the point of the damn thing,” Canada.com News Editor Lauren Strapagiel wrote recently.
At the same meeting that they passed the motion supporting nudity at Pride, the board considered a proposal to protect children by requiring that parent-volunteers get criminal background checks when attending school events.