TDSB Finally Delivers on its Promise of a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy

Toronto Wednesday May, 16 – in a unanimous
vote, Toronto District School Board trustees
stood up to in front of a board room packed
with community supporters brandishing neon
Access to Education without Fear stickers, to
show their continual support for a Don’t Ask
Don’t Tell Policy at Toronto schools.
Although the promise of this sanctuary schools
was made to community members a year ago in a
similar meeting with a motion passed last May
by the board, it has taken a year before the
principle of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has finally
become a concrete policy ready for

Prior to the meeting, despite the rain, an
animated rally in support of the long awaited
policy was held outside of 5050 Yonge, the
headquarters of the TDSB. Supporters
including members of heath centres, community
agencies, legal advocates, youth groups,
parents, the Canadian Union of Public
Employees, the Canadian Auto Workers, as well
as effected community members rallied to show
their continued support for sanctuary schools.

Albert Koehl from the Education Rights Task
Force, one of the advocacy groups fighting for
similar policies for the past eight years,
highlighted the importance of this victory and
the tremendous efforts mounted by the Don’t
Ask Don’t Tell campaign.

Kelly O’Sullivan from CUPE spoke about the
importance of partnerships between trade
unions and community groups on such
initiatives; she stated “access to services is
fundamentally a workers issue.”

Graduate student and U.S. immigration advocate
Francisco Villegas highlighted the fact that
similar DADT policies have already been won
through community mobilizations in several US

Sima Zerehi from No One is Illegal and Judith
Rae from the Immigration Legal Committee spoke
about the need to continue community
mobilizations beyond the vote in order to
insure that the policy passed is also actively
implemented and communicated to all TDSB
staff, administrators, students, partner
agencies and communities. Zerehi made links
between similar paper policies at the Toronto
Catholic School board which are scarcely known
and have yet to be fully implemented.

Grade 10 student, Anika Ashraf, one of the
most passionate voices amongst the group spoke
eloquently about the outrage she felt upon
hearing stories of fellow students Kimberly
and Gerald Lizano-Sossa who were brutally
targeted by immigration enforcement while in
school. She spoke about the need to move
forward quickly on the implementation of the
policy in order to prevent such future

Members of the DADT campaign will continue to
advocate on the policy in preparation for the
September 2007 school at an up communing
community forum on Saturday May 26 held at the
Bickford Centre, one of the schools advocating
for sanctuary schools.

For more information see, email

Law Union Annual Conference 2007

February 9 & 10th, 2007
Event to be held at two locations: Friday night Keynote Session will be held at Bloor Street United Church, 300 Bloor St. West, at 7:00 p.m. Arrive early to register. Saturday sessions will be held at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, U of T, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Justice for a Dying Planet: Law & the Climate Crisis
Atmospheric levels of CO2 are higher now than at any time in the past 420,000 years. This is an evening about “climate justice.” What is the problem? What are the fights that are underway (what fights need to happen!)? What are the solutions – what can the legal profession do – what can a motivated community do?
Gord Perks, Toronto City Councillor
Keith Stewart, Manager, Climate Change Campaign, WWF-Canada
Don Goldberg, Senior Attorney, Centre for International Environmental Law, Washington, D.C.

SATURDAY PANELS 9:00am-5:00pm:

International Law and Canada’s Participation in Afghanistan
Chair: Irina Ceric, PhD candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School, Law Union of Ontario
Speakers: Michael Mandel, Law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, founding member of Lawyers Against War, and author of How America Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity
Angela Joya, PhD candidate in political science at York University, CUPE 3903 member, Member of fact-finding mission to Afghanistan to take place in Spring 2007.
Lauryn Oastes, Independent Consultant, International Human Rights, Development, and Gender Equality, Women For Afghanistan

Let the People Decide: The Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform Presents an Historic
Opportunity for Change
Chair: Wayne Smith, Member, Fair Vote Canada
Speakers: George Thomson, Chair, Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform
Matthew Certosimo, lawyer, Assembly member
Kael Deverell, member, Students’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

On the Backs of Our Children: Chocolate, Other Comforts, and Child Labour
Chair: Dyanoosh Youssefi, Barrister and Solicitor, Criminal Defence Counsel
Speakers: Carol Off, Journalist, CBC radio’s As It Happens, Author of Bitter Chocolate
Anita Sheth, Senior Analyst, Advocacy Policy and Research, Save the Children
Donna E. Young, Professor of Law, Albany Law School
Steve Benedict, Director, International Department, Canadian Labour Congress

Challenging Police Misconduct in Ontario (a roundtable discussion)
Chair: Jackie Esmonde, Barrister and Solicitor, Roach, Schwartz and Associates, Law Union
Speakers: Bob Kellermann, Barrister and Solicitor, Law Union of Ontario, on the human rights and privacy rights implications of police use of “Form 208s” to record information about members of the public.
Lora Patton, staff lawyer at CLASP, on the criminalization of school behaviour and the increased involvement of police officers in schools.
Dyanoosh Youssefi, Barrister and Solicitor, Law Union of Ontario, on Bill 103, the proposed new police complaints procedure and the ongoing challenge of establishing an independent and fair police complaints procedure.
Julian Roy, senior lawyer at Falconer Charney, on civil litigation strategies for challenging police misconduct, including how to identify and litigate a winning case.
Peter Rosenthal, Barrister and Solicitor, Roach, Schwartz and Associates, on the benefits and pitfalls of using the inquest process to challenge the police use of force which may have resulted in death.
Magaly San Martin, Community Legal Worker at Parkdale Community Legal Clinic, on using the Small Claims Court as a strategy to challenge police misconduct.

Precarious Employment: Gaps in the Law and Strategies for Fighting Back
Chair:Sherry Liang, Member, Canadian Labour Code Review Advisory Panel
Speakers: Tracy Heffernan, Staff Lawyer, Kensington Bellwoods Community Legal Services
Karen Dick, Organizer, Workers Action Centre
Dr. Cynthia Cranford, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

Environmental Law: Issues and Updates
Chair: Sarah Dover, Barrister and Solicitor, Campaigner, environmental justice
Speakers: Shawn Patrick Stensil, Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada
Dayna Nadine Scott, Professor of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School
Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence Canada
David McRobert, In-House Counsel & Senior Policy Advisor, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

International Solidarity and Human Rights from the Philippines to Colombia
Presentation and discussion on how we can effectively work as allies with grassroots movements in other countries, and yet remain conscious of the effect of racism and imperialism on mainstream perceptions of global issues and struggles
Speakers: Mike Leitold, Barrister and Solicitor, Roach Schwartz & Associates, recently completed a human rights fact finding mission with other Canadian volunteers in the Philippines
Jeffrey House, Barrister and Solicitor,

Organizing Movement and Movement Lawyers
An informal roundtable to discuss the relationship between lawyers/legal workers and movements for social change.
Chair: Mac Scott, Immigration Consultant, Carranza Barristers and Solicitors, Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty, No One Is Illegal, Law Union of Ontario
Facilitators/speakers: Matthew Behrens, Organizer, Toronto Action for Social Change, Campaign to Stop Secret Trials
Amina Sherazee, Immigrant Rights Lawyer, Downtown Legal Service
Barbara Jackmam, Immigrant Rights Lawyer, Jackman and Associates
Zainab Amadhy, Organizer, Coalition in Support of Indigenous Sovereignty
John Clarke, Organizer, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Chris Harris, Youth Coordinator, Black Action Defence Committee
Howard Morton, Barrister and Solicitor, Law Union of Ontario
Sima Zerehi, Organizer, No One Is Illegal

PLENARY: The Duty to Consult Aboriginal People: Step Forward or Colonialist Trick?
Chair: Shin Imai, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
Opening and Closing Remarks: Murray Klippenstein, Barrister and Solicitor

Conference fees: $10.00 for Friday night keynote ($5.00 for students and unwaged), $35.00 for the Saturday panels ($10.00 for students and unwaged) or $10.00 per single session ($5.00 for students and unwaged)