The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has censured trustee Michael Del Grande over comments made during a meeting over a move to make the board’s code of conduct policy more inclusive to LGBTQ2 students.
“The board censured Trustee Del Grande for behaviour which was disrespectful to the [LGBTQ2] community as a whole and the TCDSB community,” Joseph Martino wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“I want to assure students, their families and staff, that the TCDSB is committed to creating inclusive learning environments and school communities that are safe and welcoming places.”
In addition to the censure, Martino said trustees voted to request a public apology from Del Grande, to require completion of an equity training program and to not appoint Del Grade to “any representative position or role” on behalf of the TCDSB for three months.
It was Nov. 7, 2019, when the TCDSB held a marathon six-hour session. One of the major items on the agenda that day was a motion to update its Code of Conduct to be more inclusive and protective of LGBTQ2 students by adding the terms gender identity, gender expression, family status and marital status. Those changes passed by a vote tally of 8-4.
But during the discussion around the motion, Del Grande stood up to move an amendment asking for several other terms — including bestiality, pedophilia and terms related to rape, cannibalism and vampirism — to be added to the list.
In an interview with Global News Radio AM640 Toronto last year, Del Grande claimed he was trying to illustrate just how slippery a slope the original concept was.
The board voted on Wednesday to release excerpts of a confidential report on the matter prepared by Rubin Thomlinson LLP. According to the report, the investigator said she found the comments were an argument to make his case and “a use of hyperbole.”
Michelle Bird said she found Del Grande violated the code of conduct for trustees even though he was acting within his role as a trustee to debate the motion.
“I find that the inflammatory language that Mr. Del Grande included in his motion, and the flippant (to use his own word) manner in which he addressed concerns about that language, is what crossed the line,” she wrote.
“Mr. Del Grande made his remarks knowing both that members of the LGBTQ+ community were present at the meeting and that others not present would be able to access his remarks after the meeting; to do so was disrespectful, not inclusive and lacking in compassion.”
Bird went on to say Del Grande’s actions were “exacerbated by the fact that he chose to suggest that including criminals – such as cannibals and rapists – in the code of conduct was somehow similar to including members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
“There were many ways in which Mr. Del Grande could have argued his disagreement with the motion to amend the Code of Conduct without crossing the line into disrespectful rhetoric,” she wrote.
“In choosing the words that he did, he created an unwelcoming and harmful environment for certain members of the Catholic school board community.”
Global News contacted Del Grande Thursday afternoon to ask for comment about the decision, but a response wasn’t received by the time of publication.
–With files from Mark Carcasole
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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