Celebrating our differences through Catholic social teachings
The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) is committed to diversity, inclusion and equity within our schools. You can see the commitment to creating nurturing and welcoming school environments in all of our 83 schools.
Our Catholic faith acts as a guiding light for our Board. OCSB students connect to their school communities through various groups and activities while embracing Catholic social teachings through Deep Learning. As our students build character and become global-minded citizens, they make efforts to ensure Student Voice is heard and respected.
Nurturing community through Diversity Clubs & GSAs
During the pandemic, OCSB students found creative ways to connect and care for each other. Some schools started new clubs to help support members of their school community. These clubs fostered inclusivity and promoted students’ mental health and well-being. When OCSB schools closed for in-person learning, many diversity clubs accepted new members and these support systems grew exponentially.
The GSAs, Rainbow clubs, Pride clubs, Equity clubs and Diversity clubs within our high schools are excellent examples of how students come together to champion diversity. These student-led clubs were established to support members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community within our schools.
How students show their OCSB Pride
Since the GSA clubs are student-led with the support of OCSB staff members, each club is unique. Students communicate their requests to their staff leads, and with approval from their school Principal, various GSA initiatives have been implemented.
Grade 12 students Madison and Olivia from St. Joseph High School’s St. Joe’s Pride Club wanted to take their GSA a step further this year by hosting a Pride Week. The two friends came up with the idea over the summer and prepared a presentation for their school Principal. They received approval to host the first-ever St. Joe’s Pride Week this past May.
“We wanted to make something special and unique, so we came up with the idea to plan a spirit week,” reflected Madison during an interview conducted at their Pride Week event.
The students created custom Pride pins and set up a photo booth where students showed their support for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. “It’s so important to have a community you can share your experiences and relate to – it makes things easier for everyone,” explained Olivia. She noted the importance of creating safe spaces like the GSA clubs within our schools.
Faith-guided support for our OCSB Family
Our faith teaches us we are all God’s children. The GSA clubs in the OCSB incorporate Catholic values through a sense of belonging, inclusion and dignity of person through a pastoral lens. Many of the students work with their school’s Chaplaincy Leader to ensure club members know the school’s chapel is a safe space for everyone to share their concerns and collectively find solutions.
“We’ve incorporated prayers for 2SLGBTQ+ people in the community,” said Madison as she discussed one way the St. Joe’s Pride Club members incorporate their Catholic faith into their GSA club.
Embracing diversity within our schools
June is Pride Month, and as part of our faith and our commitment to equity and inclusion, we will continue to support diverse student groups within our schools.
The OCSB Board of Trustees has shown their support and commitment to ensuring all students feel welcome in our schools. The focus on mental health, well-being, acceptance and inclusion is an essential component of our Be Community commitment.
Last year Trustee Spencer Warren brought forth a motion, which Vice-Chair Jeremy Wittet seconded, and the Board of Trustees approved to fly the Pride flag at all OCSB schools as one symbol of this commitment.
The Board also approved the student senate’s budget suggestion of providing each school’s GSA with $1,000 to start each year to work on building capacity, acceptance, and understanding within their schools.
All high schools have a GSA club. Students interested in joining can speak with their teacher, Guidance Counsellor, Chaplaincy Leader or Principal for information. If you are interested in connecting with other OCSB students from the 2SLGBTQ+ community, please reach out to the members of existing GSA clubs. We are all a part of the same OCSB Family.