Sudbury school board makes decision on drag event
After putting the brakes on a planned event involving high-profile drag queens at a Sudbury high school two weeks ago, the Rainbow District School Board has officially cancelled its participation.
The decision was made following a meeting with an organizer from the International Day of Pink.
Courage Across Canada Tour featuring drag superstars Icesis Couture and Suki Dog (International Day of Pink)
"There is agreement that the board will focus its efforts on its existing events in support of students and will not participate in the tour," the school board said in a news release on Tuesday afternoon.
"The organizer is currently considering a community-based event during the evening of Feb. 10."
The Courage Across Canada tour, featuring drag superstars such as the winner of Canada's Drag Race Season 2 Icesis Couture, was planning to visit Lo-Ellen Park Secondary in February.
The tour is visiting 10 communities across the country “sharing drag and stories at local schools by day and celebrating with free performances at local venues by night.”
A spokesperson for the school board, Nicole Charette, told CTV News in an email last week that the request to host the tour came to the board's attention on Jan. 17.
The student organizer told CTV News he had taken the planning process through the appropriate channels and that the high school event had been in the works since September.
CTV News has not been able to independently verify the board's assertion that it didn't know about the event until January.
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"It was not forwarded for review and, therefore, was never approved before the actual planning for the event began," Charette said in an email to CTV New on Jan. 23.
"Presentations in our schools are carefully considered before they are approved. This may include reviewing the proposed message and content and soliciting feedback from previous hosts of the proposed presentation. This may also include having appropriate resources in place for students who may need follow up support. We have many requests to host a variety of presentations or events in many areas each year. Events must have an educational focus and be appropriate for educational settings. We have not had the opportunity to review this request for its educational component."
Outraged by the decision, an online petition was created in response in support of the show. It has gathered 1,669 signatures by 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The school board said it has two full-day educational workshops involving the 2SLGBTQIA community planned in the coming months.
Workshops will be offered to students Feb. 17 at La Place des Arts downtown as part of the Classroom Closet event presented by Réseau Access Network.
"The Classroom Closet provides conference participants with the knowledge, attitude, and skills required to support and advocate for 2S-LGBTQ+ students, friends, family members, and co-workers. A diverse range of speakers and facilitators will deliver workshops on a number of 2S-LGBTQ+ related topics," the school board said.
Another educational conference called Embrace Diversity: Free to Be Me, formerly known as Dare to Stand Out, will take place March 30 for students in Grades 7 and 8 and April 27 for students in Grades 9-12.
"Free to Be Me is all about listening to and honouring student voice. Staff members reach out to the (genders and sexualities alliances) from all Rainbow secondary schools to seek input on topics of interest to them. Partners provide guest speakers and deliver workshops, often based on the lived-experience of members of the 2S-LGBTQ+ community," the school board said.
"Participants build understanding and brainstorm solutions to help foster a greater sense of safety and belonging in their schools and communities."
Due to the Rainbow school board's decision, students in Sudbury have organized a free all-ages Courage Tour event at Collège Boréal, organizers told CTV News through social media.
It will take place at 4 p.m. on Feb. 10.
Sudbury all-ages Courage Tour event Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. at College Boreal. (International Day of Pink)
"Please support them by sharing this event and donating to the Day of Pink," Icesis Couture said in a statement sent to CTV News on Tuesday afternoon.
Statement from Icesis Couture about new Courage Tour event (International Day of Pink)
The drag queens involved in the Courage Across Canada tour will also be performing at Zig’s in Sudbury the evening of Feb. 10.
CTV News video journalist Ian Campbell is also following the story and will have reaction from organizers on Wednesday.
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