The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has reinstated a link to the LGBT Youthline on their website after facing backlash for its removal on Tuesday.
The link was removed because of what the board said was “inappropriate material” found on the site.
According to the LGBT Youthline, the TCDSB sent them an email stating that they found objectionable material on the site, linking an article written by former Liberal MP Joe Volpe, who referred to it as a “pornographic website.”
The group started out as a phone line more than two decades ago and now provides vital support to thousands of youth 29 and under, who are queer, trans, and two-spirit.
“When we’re told that it’s being pulled from a really large school board, it has an impact,” said Berkha Gupta, executive director of LGBT Youthline. “Especially given that they have no other resources for 2s LGBTQ youth listed other than ours at that time.”
The board says their decision to remove the website had nothing to do with Volpe’s article, but does say a YouTube link cited in that article, was forwarded to them. There has been criticism that the school board caved in to the former MP.
“He’s promoting hate against trans individuals and trans students and he’s promoting hate against students that may be LGBT. He’s also promoting hate against their families,” said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
In a statement to CityNews the TCDSB said:
“We recognize the services YouthLine provides to LGBTQ2s youth offering peer support. It was brought to our attention that their website had third-party resources which included content that is not appropriate for school-aged children. The link was removed to allow staff an opportunity to connect with Youth Line to better understand their resources and to ensure continued support for youth in need of services.”
“Letting a school board, especially a Catholic school board make decisions on what is appropriate and inappropriate content on an LGBTQ organization’s website is a very slippery slope,” said Gupta. “I think if TCDSB had come to the table saying ‘hey can we have some conversations with you?’, this situation would have looked very different … and 2s organizations are tired and have continuously been under scrutiny of jumping through hoops to be considered appropriate to be given to students.”
On Wednesday night, TCDSB trustee Norm Di Pasquale tweeted that the “invaluable resource” was back on the board’s website.
.@LGBTYouthLine’s invaluable resource is back up on the @TCDSB website. I look forward to bringing a motion tomorrow to our board meeting to provide more supports for our LGBTQ students. #topoli #onpoli #onted pic.twitter.com/F98LSWGpvY
— Trustee Norm Di Pasquale TCDSB Ward 9 (@normsworld) January 13, 2021