For the third time this year, the Ottawa Police Service found itself at an Ottawa Carleton District School Board meeting.
An estimated crowd of more than 300 people showed up for the March 28 meeting, triggered by an incident that happened earlier in the month when Manotick parent Nick Morabito was silenced by the board less than a minute into his presentation.
Morabito spoke on the board’s washroom policy, and how it created an uncomfortable situation for him and his daughters. Trustee Nili Kaplan-Myrth cut him off, saying he was creating “an unsafe environment for people who identify as gender diverse.”
Kaplan-Myrth’s actions sparked unrest among the spectators at the meeting. The board took a recess and called the Ottawa Police.
The topic of washrooms became divisive over the two weeks leading up to the March 28 meeting. This came on the heels of the debate when Kaplan-Myrth, a doctor, put forward a motion that masks should be mandated for students and staff at all OCDSB schools.
The OCDSB washroom policy states that all students have the right to use the washrooms, and other facilities, that they feel most comfortable with, including ‘boys’, ‘girls’, and all-inclusive facilities.
Morabito’s March 7 presentation stated that this policy had a loophole as any male could go in a female washroom under the premise that they identified as female. He said that this policy could potentially open the door for sexual predators.
Morabito registered to speak again at the March 28 meeting, insisting that he was not coming from a place of hostility, bigotry or transphobia.
That prompted a large and divided crowd to show up to the OCDSB headquarters on Greenbank Road. Some carried or wore LGBTQ2+ flags. Others carried bibles. Chants went back and forth. A video posted by 17-year-old student and social media influencer Josh Alexander went viral after the meeting. Alexander, a social conservative, was walking through the crowd and faced a barrage of shouts and insults from the transgender supporters. He also had debris thrown at him, including a cup of coffee.
He posted the incident, recorded by @CarymaRules, on his Twitter account, writing, “Got a free coffee at the @OCDSB. As a 17yo Canadian citizen, I present to you the tolerant left…” Alexander’s tweet had more than 675,000 views at press time.
Because of the hostility of the crowd and the potential for yet another disrupted meeting, only 75 spectators were admitted into the gallery for the meeting.
Morabito was able to give his presentation without interruption.
Shannon Boschy spoke in support of Morabito. Boschy ran for Trustee in the last municipal election and was easily defeated by transgender trustee Lyra Evans, who is now the OCDSB Chair. His son, Andy Boschy, also spoke. Andy is transgender and delivered a speech calling for the assurance that the safety and dignity of students is protected. The speech drew applause from most attendees at the meeting.
Frances McCrae, a parent of two non-binary children, gave a detailed presentation detailing how transgender youth are disproportionately bullied due to discrimination and fear for their safety.
While the meeting and the incident outside the OCDSB building was focused on transgender rights, Morabito said his presentation had nothing to do with that. His presentation was about washroom safety.
Morabito is calling for retrofitting school washrooms and having floor-to-ceiling stalls.
According to the OCDSB, 95 per cent f their schools have gender neutral washrooms.
More than 300 people showed up for the OCDSB meeting March 28. Four police cars were there before the meeting started in anticipation of a clash in the crowd.