Saskatoon Catholic school email warning of 2SLGBTQ children’s tent sparks outrage

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Catholic school email warning of 2SLGBTQ tent sparks outrage
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools is receiving backlash after an internal email was posted online informing staff to avoid a certain tent at an upcoming festival. Kabilan Moulitharan has more.

Comments from a school administrator from Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools around the Nutrien Children’s Festival has drawn some concerns from a student.

An email sent out on May 17 from Tom Hickey, a superintendent of education, warned teachers to stay away from a “Rainbow Tent” at the festival.

Global News received several emails from residents taking issue with the memo.

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“Engagement and participation by our students in that particular onsite offering would not be supported,” reads the email.

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Ana-Alexandra Matei, a grade 12 student at St. Joseph High School, says she has a lot of friends in the 2SLGBTQ community, and noted this was a topic that is important to her.

“That’s outrageous, I just cannot believe (the school division) is doing that kind of stuff,” Matei said.

She said she was surprised and disappointed that a message like that would get sent out from someone at GSCS.

“We do put quite a bit of importance on the fact that our school is open, that they’re accepting.”

She said she is expecting an apology, and hopes more resources are given to help the 2SLGBTQ community.

“By extending that email, by putting those restrictions in place they hurt a lot of members.”

She said this affects not only the students, but also parents.

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Matei said she has spoke with classmates and 2SLGBTQ members, noting they are outraged as well.

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“This is not something that should be happening, and this is not something our school division should be portraying.”

She wants to continue to emphasize that people from 2SLGBTQ communities are welcome, and for GSCS to confirm that message as well.

In the festival’s digital booklet for 2023, the description for the rainbow tent says: “From Drag Queens to inclusive performances full of colour and fun, this tent has it all!”

The not-for-profit organization has a Fund-a-Class program that helps raise money to allow classrooms that may struggle to access the festival to attend.

“We are still striving for our goal to be inclusive to all children of Saskatchewan, and we could always use the help,” wrote the festival’s board chair Kyle Drever.

Darcie Young with the Nutrien Children’s Festival said the rainbow tent is new for this year, but inclusive programming has been something they’ve had at the festival for several years.

“Last year we offered one of the programs that was 2SLGBTQ online, because it was an amazing show that was a comic book style, it was a digitally animated show, and it was wonderful,” Young said.

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She said they have several activities to take part in over the four days, as well as a bunch of online material to reach outside of the province.

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Young said the festival is well loved, noting she came onboard in 2019.

“It has grown, it’s a provincial entity.”

She said they decided this year to really push their mandate that every child is welcome.

“We want to support every child, and that is a work in progress, but now it’s time to step up and do something and provide that safe space, so that’s what we did with the rainbow tent.”

She said they always get some pushback for some things, giving an example of getting a complaint that the festival was being held on grass.

Young said people are entitled to their opinion, but inclusive programming is a must.

“That’s who we are as an organization, and I think that’s a step in the right direction.”

Young said the Nutrien Children’s Festival runs from June 1st to 4th at Saskatoon’s Kinsmen Park.

“It’s for children aged 2-12. It’s about ensuring that all children feel heard, and loved, and included, and that they know they’re of importance. We create this four-day celebration for them.”

Global News has reached out to Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools for comment. A note in response stated a statement is being prepared.


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