The four Toronto Catholic trustees who decided fellow trustee Michael Del Grande did not breach the board’s code of conduct when he connected bizarre sexual behaviours to LGBTQ rights are now facing a complaint and a call for their resignation.
In a letter to the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s director of education, former student board trustee Kyle Iannuzzi complains that Trustees Garry Tanuan, Nancy Crawford, Teresa Lubinski and Angela Kennedy voted that Del Grande did not breach the code even after they had seen a report by a law firm probing Del Grande’s behaviour that concluded he had.
“I am requesting that trustees Del Grande, Tanuan, Crawford, Lubinski and Kennedy resign from office,” Iannuzzi wrote to education director Brendan Browne Friday. “Should the trustees refuse to resign, I would like these trustees to issue a formal apology to the LGBTQI2SA+ community and for them to be forbidden from running for any chair, vice-chair, or representative positions at the remaining caucus meetings of their term.”
Iannuzzi’s complaint also asks that the report on Del Grande’s conduct by Michelle Bird, a lawyer with Rubin Thomlinson LLP, be released publicly by the board with a formal apology, along with information about who decided the report should not be made public.
Joseph Martino, Chair of the TCDSB, told the Star in a statement Sunday that trustees decided in a private meeting to release the report to the complainants and to Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
Tanuan, Crawford, Lubinski, Kennedy and Del Grande did not respond to requests for comment Sunday. Kennedy told the Star last week that since the vote, “I have had great difficulty living with my decision” and that she “will be voting in favour of reopening the matter and revisiting the decision” at a special board meeting this coming Wednesday.
Del Grande faced complaints and calls for his resignation for comments he made during a public meeting on Nov. 7, 2019, when the board was debating whether to include four terms in its code of conduct: gender expression, gender identity, family status and marital status.
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During discussions concerning the four terms, which the board was debating to ensure the code aligned with human rights legislation, Del Grande attempted to add a long list of bizarre sexual behaviours to the code, including bestiality, pedophilia, necrophilia and anthropophagolagnia, an interest in raping and cannibalizing another person.
“After all, everybody is concerned that the right terms are used … It’s a slippery slope. This is how slippery it’s going to get,” Del Grande said during the meeting. “All these poor people are children of God, created in the image of God, and they need to be recognized.”
This past August, seven TCDSB trustees voted that Del Grande, a veteran trustee and politician, had breached the code of conduct with his behaviour, while four trustees — Tanuan, Crawford, Lubinski and Kennedy — did not, despite the fact that they had seen the report by Bird that found Del Grande had violated the code. (Under the board’s two-thirds voting rule, the support of eight trustees was needed for a finding that Del Grande broke the code.)
“I note that Mr. Del Grande’s actions are exacerbated by the fact that he chose to suggest that including criminals — such as cannibals and rapists — in the Code of Conduct was somehow similar to including members of the LGBTQ+ community,” Bird wrote in her report, which has not been released publicly but a copy of which was obtained by the Star. “In choosing the words that he did, he created an unwelcoming and harmful environment for certain members of the Catholic school board community.”
As a gay man himself, Iannuzzi, who was the student trustee at the TCDSB in 2003-04, said thinking about Del Grande’s comments is “very depressing.”
“I get caught up in those depressive thoughts and it distracts me from being productive at work, it distracts me from being productive in my day to day,” he told the Star on Sunday. “It’s very demeaning, it’s very hurtful. It causes me a lot of flashbacks to issues that I dealt with in my adolescence and younger than that.”
“This contingent of people who cling to the Catholic faith supposing that who we are is immoral and wrong and all that kind of vitriol, they just don’t understand how hateful their rhetoric is.”
With files from Kristin Rushowy
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