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Sudbury news: Rainbow school board says ‘no’ to drag event

After halting a planned event featuring high-profile drag queens at a Sudbury high school two weeks ago, the Rainbow District School Board has officially canceled its attendance.

The decision was made after meeting with an organizer of the International Day of Pink.

Courage Across Canada Tour with Drag Superstars Icesis Couture and Suki Dog (International Day of Pink)

“It is unanimous that the board will focus its efforts on its existing student support events and will not participate in the tour,” the school board said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.

“The organizer is currently considering a community-based event on the evening of February 10.”

The Courage Across Canada tour, which features drag superstars like Canadian Drag Race Season 2 winner Icesis Couture, planned to visit Lo-Ellen Park Secondary in February.

The tour visits 10 communities across the country “to share drag and storytelling at local schools by day and celebrate with free performances at local venues by night.”

A school board spokeswoman, Nicole Charette, told CTV News in an email last week that the request to host the tour was brought to the school board’s attention on Jan. 17.

The student organizer told CTV News he has been leading the planning process through the appropriate channels and the high school event has been in the works since September.

CTV News was unable to independently verify the board’s claim that it was unaware of the event until January.

“It was not submitted for review and therefore was never approved before actual planning for the event began,” Charette said in an email to CTV New on Jan. 23.

“Presentations in our schools are carefully reviewed before they are approved. This may include reviewing the proposed message and content, and seeking feedback from previous hosts of the proposed presentation. This may also include providing appropriate resources to students who may need follow-up support. We have many requests to host a variety of presentations or events in many areas each year. The events must have an educational focus and be suitable for educational institutions. We have not had an opportunity to review this request for its educational component.”

Outraged by the decision, an online petition was created in support of the show. It had collected 1,669 signatures as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The school board said it has two full-day educational workshops planned with the 2SLGBTQIA community in the coming months.

Workshops will be offered to students on February 17th at La Place des Arts downtown as part of the Classroom Closet event presented by Réseau Access Network.

“The Classroom Closet provides conference attendees with the knowledge, attitude and skills needed to support and advocate for 2S LGBTQ+ students, friends, family members and employees on 2S LGBTQ+-related issues,” the school board said .

Another education conference, titled Embrace Diversity: Free to Be Me, formerly known as Dare to Stand Out, will be held on 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 appreciating the voice of the students. Staff reach out to the (gender and sexuality alliances) of all Rainbow secondary schools for input on issues of interest to them. Partners provide guest speakers and workshops, often based on the lived experience of members of the 2S LGBTQ+ community,” the school board said.

“Participants build understanding and invent solutions to foster a greater sense of security and belonging in their schools and communities.”

Due to the Rainbow School Board’s decision, students in Sudbury have organized a free Courage Tour event for all ages at Collège Boréal, organizers told CTV News via social media.

It will take place on February 10th at 4 p.m.

Sudbury Courage Tour event for all ages on February 10th at 4pm at College Boreal. (International Pink Day)

“Please support them by sharing this event and donating to the Day of Pink,” Icesis Couture said in a statement aired to CTV News Tuesday afternoon.

Statement by Icesis Couture on the new Courage Tour Event (International Day of Pink)

The drag queens involved in the Courage Across Canada tour will also perform at Zig’s in Sudbury on the evening of February 10th.

CTV News video journalist Ian Campbell is also following the story and will have a reaction from organizers on Wednesday.

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