Saturday, January 2, 2016

Media shut out of Toronto gay-centric high school meeting

Media shut out of Toronto gay-centric high school meeting


TORONTO SUN
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A community forum to discuss the prospect of calling on the TDSB to establish the city’s first gay-centric secondary school was held behind closed doors on Wednesday at the 519 Church Community Centre. It was organized by 20-year-old Fan Wu (pictured, right) — a former TDSB student trustee. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)
TORONTO - A group from Toronto’s gay community calling for a queer-centric high school shut the public out of a meeting to discuss the proposal Wednesday night, citing concerns over security and the comfort of the participants.
Fan Wu, a former Toronto District School Board student trustee and the chief organizer of the meeting, spoke with the media outside of the 519 Community Centre on Church St. in Toronto’s gay village, then disappeared inside to begin a community forum to discuss designing a proposal to put forward to the TDSB for a high school that would serve gay students and teachers.
Wu confirmed that Javier Davila , a student equity program advisor with the TDSB, would be attending the meeting but denied earlier reports that Davila had assisted in organizing the forum and that he had attemped to gather support among school board officials.
All media were barred from entering the meeting room. Participants, Wu said, needed to feel comfortable enough to discuss proposing such a school.
“There were concerns by community members about the media’s presence not making them free enough to speak their minds,” said Wu, adding that the curriculum in the new school would be revamped to focus on homosexual identity. “There would be huge curriculum changes in order to gear them to diversity perspectives.”
Calls made to Wu upon the meeting’s completion were not immediately returned.
Canada Christian College president Charles McVety says it was wrong to keep the meeting secret when it is the public that will end up paying for the school.
“This whole process has been done behind closed doors and sprung on the public,” said McVety.
Meanwhile, reaction to a queer-centric school was mixed among those in Toronto’s gay village in the Church and Wellesley Sts. area.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Todd, 49, who did not want to give his last name. “I think (the students) would flourish. They could just be who that are.”
Todd, who said he attended a tough private school where he didn’t advertise his homosexuality, added that such a school would serve those who need to feel secure in order to succeed academically and socially.
Rafael, 40, disagreed. He said while a gay-centric school would be “amazing” in dealing with the in-school bullying issue, it would fall short when it comes to integrating gay teens in standard school environments.
“It would be better if they had both gay and straight together in the classroom,” said Rafael, a nursing-home employee. “If they could interact ... that label of, you are gay, I am straight, would disappear eventually.”