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
implementation.

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
jurisdictions.

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
incidents.

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
Toronto.nooneisillegal.org, email
nooneisillegal@riseup.net

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