• Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) distributed Safe Space stickers in early 2023 to their 3,500+ members.
  • Members were given the option to place the sticker outside their classroom, library, gym and/or workroom based on their beliefs and comfort levels.
  • These Safe Space stickers were preceded by door hangers in 2013 which had the Pride Flag, the statement “Safe Space”, and the OECTA logo.
  • However parents and some OECTA members have expressed concerns, saying the sticker is not aligned with their Catholic values.
  • In response to those concerns, OECTA President Michael Totten said they “will continue to educate and encourage our members that the placement of this sticker does not oppose the Catholic Values we share with students on a daily basis.”
  • Two delegations expressing disapproval of the stickers were put forward at the York Catholic District School Board meeting on February 28, 2023.
  • Members in the gallery became so disruptive that the police were called, however the meeting continued following a brief recess.
  • OECTA released the following media statement:

“Each and every day, Catholic teachers strive to create a safe and welcoming environment for all, and to imbue our classrooms and schools with the respect and inclusivity in keeping with our faith and belief that everyone is deserving of God’s love.  As such, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association believes that all of our students and staff deserve to learn and work in a space that is completely safe from all types of harm and we work to actualize this in our schools. This includes anyone within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

The Safe Space moniker on classroom doors is a visual representation or indication to everyone of our teachers’ commitment to promoting respect, human rights, and a culture in our schools that celebrates diversity and contributes to creating a more inclusive society.  At times there is worry that displaying these stickers means teachers are going against the teachings of the Catholic faith, suggesting sexuality or directing gender identification. Please know that these issues are not being discussed by classroom teachers and these stickers are about staff making a personal choice to support a community that often struggles for acceptance, and no one has asked teachers to create dialogue or discussions that would not follow the values and teachings of our Catholic Church.

And while there is undoubtedly progress still to be made in the Catholic education community with respect to 2SLGBTQIA+ issues, Catholic teachers are proud of the role we continue to play in championing accessibility, inclusion, diversity, and equity.  We are committed to supporting and advancing the rights of our 2SLGBTQIA+ and equity-deserving communities within our publicly funded education system and our union.”