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78 Comments

politics

School Trustees Want Parade-Goers to Cover Up at Pride

They're hoping the City will enforce a ban on public nudity at the event.

Marchers carry a giant rainbow flag during the 2012 Toronto Pride Parade.

With lower test scores than school boards in the surrounding area, tension between trustees and staff that requires a police presence, and an annual cash crunch that forces tough budgetary decisions, you might expect that the Toronto District School Board would be focusing on its most pressing issues.

Enter Sam Sotiropoulos (Ward 20, Scarborough–Agincourt). The first-term trustee believes he has identified a critical issue the board needs to address, and two other trustees have signed on to support him. The critical issue? Public nudity at the annual Pride parade (in which the TDSB has a float). Forget that it’s only a few of the thousands of people in attendance who inflict the torment of public nudity on unsuspecting parade-goers. Forget that public nudity in a parade can be considered an act of protest, and that it has a specific history rooted in the Pride parade as a form of political action. Forget that the school board doesn’t have any real authority over the issue, except in that it can ask council to enforce Canada’s ban on public nudity, which is what today, these trustees will be asking the TDSB to do. And forget that Sotiropoulos’ past tweets suggest that he has never been to the Pride parade. What we need to remember is that public nudity is gross, and legislating morality is grand.

Sotiropoulos has made nudity at the Pride parade something of a pet issue recently, trying to pick a fight with councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) on the topic, and also sounding the alarm over “homosexism,” which is totally not a made-up thing he found on Urban Dictionary to support his argument that heterosexuals are being bullied. He also accidentally sent an email in December to his fellow trustees referring to their “malicious misery, ill-breeding, and sourpusses.” The teachers’ union has lodged a complaint over his tweets, causing him to lash out against them, too.

It’s tempting to dismiss this trustee as someone undeserving of the attention he seeks, but he might be around for a while—and with the recent announcement that Mike Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough–Agincourt) will retire from council, Sotiropoulos’ local council seat is open, and there’s always the possibility that he might run.

Comments

  • daviddemchuk

    Also, it’s already come before the courts (in 2002) and the charges were dismissed. They likely would be again, and for the same reasons. “Seven men who bared all in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade have been cleared
    of public nudity charges because they were wearing shoes, their lawyer
    said on Thursday.” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nude-men-escape-jail-thanks-to-shoes/

    • John Atticus

      I don’t quite understand on a legal level how police and the courts are able to arrest / convict flashers versus not being able to do the same with public nudists?

      Both are “partially clothed” as they both have footwear. I’ve never heard of a barefoot flasher, usually they have an amazing trenchcoat too.

      • jimro

        Both the police and the courts have latitude to charge and convict depending on the seriousness of the issue.

  • FourOneSix

    The TDSB does have a point, to a degree…. however as David Hains so clearly points out in this article – Don’t they have something better to do, rather than lobby council on unrelated matters to education? Clean up your own backyard first. City Council has enough problems and time wasters without the TDSB weighing in. NEXT!

  • torontothegreat

    Why is anyone even giving this homophobic asswipe Sotiropoulos the time of day?

    • CaligulaJones

      “I have no problem participating with Pride — it’s such a wonderful event that’s also part of our board’s social justice piece”

      If he’s a homophobe, then so is Irene Atkinson apparently.

      • jimro

        While she initially adopted the same position, she later reversed it, I understand.

        • CaligulaJones

          Regardless, his opinion on the matter at hand is not homophobic.

    • http://www.miroslavglavic.ca Miroslav Glavic

      Part of living in a democratic society is free speech. Sam’s problem is the nudity part, not the LGBT community, he is not a homophobic asswipe. Not attendiing pride parade does not make you a homophobic asswipe.

      • rich1299

        The nudists/naturalists are part of Toronto’s LGBT community, they’re mostly members of of a group called TNT MEN (Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity). Censorship was and still is one of the main tools used against LGBT people, there just isn’t any appetite among most LGBT Torontonians or Toronto Pride to start censoring members of the community, especially at Pride of all occasions. Its not like nudity is unexpected at Pride, this has been an issue for some for a very long time after all. If anyone finds it very upsetting to see maybe 10-20 uncovered bodies at Pride out of the thousands marching they don’t have to attend.

        Its saying something though that this trustee and his supporters aren’t at all upset by nor even mention the female nudity at Pride. There are far more topless and nearly naked women than men at Pride yet never any complaints about them. The fact that this trustee is only concerned about nearly naked men but not nearly naked women suggests that he is “a homophobic asswipe”. Why else the difference in reaction between nearly naked men and nearly naked women?

        • FourOneSix

          One of the differences between women going topless and men showing their flaccid dongs in public, is that by law, women are allowed to go topless… That’s the major difference here. Know your laws before calling someone out. Is this trustee an asswipe? Absolutely hands down, yes. Sexist? Perhaps (Given his UrbanDictionary definition of heterosexist lol) Is he a homophobe? That has yet to be seen. I still think this is nothing more than political gesturing on his part as elections are coming up and DelGrande is retiring soon. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Just look at the Ford brothers. lol

          • torontothegreat

            Smoking marijuana in public is illegal, yet the marijuana march happens every year.

          • rich1299

            I wasn’t referring to topless women but the women who only wear shoes and perhaps a hat as nearly naked, there are plenty of them at Pride every year including many similarly nearly naked trans people, some with top surgery but no bottom surgery or vice versa. Their nudity is never an issue for such people as this trustee which raises lots of questions about their motivations.

          • David Church

            “Know your laws before calling someone out.” That applies to Sam also. He appears ignorant of the situational exceptions and legal judgements (Pride is a very notable one) which actually do permit public nudity.

      • vampchick21

        No, but his recent Twitter rants about Homosexism (complete with Urban Dictionary reference!) and his reactions to those calling him out on his utter stupidity make him an asswipe period. I suspect a little homophobia bounces around his pointed little skull as well. Even without this particular issue, he’s a stain on a dirty pool of trustees.

      • torontothegreat

        Part of being a school trustee is a Code of Conduct, similar to almost any other workplace in the country. Sam is free to speak whatever homophobic views he wants – on his own fucking time / dime. This has nothing to do with democracy or the TDSB.

        “Not attendiing pride parade does not make you a homophobic asswipe.”

        You reached that conclusion not me. Sam is a homophobic asswipe for his Twitter meltdown claiming “heterosexism”.

      • David Church

        If nudity alone was Trustee Sam’s honest concern, you would think he would also be concerned about the proximity of the Island Natural Science School to the nude beach at Hanlans Point.

        Grade 5 & 6 classes from across the city spent a week living and learning at the school, which includes study projects exploring nature throughout the islands. No doubt the beach area is off bounds. I’m equally certain that enterprising 12 yr olds have found opportunities to check it out. (Good for them, I say.)

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    Oh bloody hell. I’ve been going to pride every year for like the past gazillion years and every year see like maybe 3 flaccid dongs. My kid sees more peen at the communal washroom at her daycare. It’s such a non-issue; there’s so much else going on and anyway they’re just bodies, we all have them.

    • http://www.miroslavglavic.ca Miroslav Glavic

      I have been volunteering for Pride parade for the past 6-8 years. I see in average 40-50 flaccid dongs each year. Men and Women can go topless all they want. However they can’t go bottomless. Feel free to contact your political representative and ask him/her to change the law. Until then…there is a ban on nudity.

      • torontothegreat

        In 2009, 6,000 people marched in the parade. Do you realize how insignificant 40-50 people are?

        • Dinah Might

          They are the 1%. :-D

  • carswell

    What jurisdiction does the TDSB have in this matter????

    • CaligulaJones

      I believe it has to do with the fact that the TDSB has a float in the parade, which is mentioned in the column (not article).

      • torontothegreat

        Then remove the float.

        • CaligulaJones

          Again, that’s the point.

          • torontothegreat

            But it’s not. Maybe read about the issue before commenting on it, mmmkay?

            “Three TDSB school trustees will propose during a meeting Wednesday evening that Toronto council have police enforce a nudity bylaw during this year’s Pride parade.”

          • CaligulaJones

            ” Maybe read about the issue before commenting on it, mmmkay”

            If you spent half the time actually reading (no, not this column masquerading as an article, but the Star article linked) as you do thinking up what you probably think of as biting repartee, you wouldn’t appear to be as much an asshole:

            “I cannot sign off to participating and promoting an event”

            I.e, as a duly elected representative performing due diligence, he wants assurances that the law of the land will be followed.

            You get an A+ for ineffectual invective, and a D- in reading comprehension.

          • torontothegreat

            Are you fucking daft? From the Star article:

            Headline:

            “Trustees to ask city to bar nudity at Pride Parade”

            Body:

            “Several Toronto school trustees want a guarantee from City Hall that there will be no bare bums allowed this year in the Pride Parade”

            “They will ask the Toronto District School Board Wednesday to agree to ask the mayor and city council whether they plan to enforce Canada’s ban on public nudity during the popular parade”

            “I don’t believe males or females should be running around naked in the streets, and if they are, police ought to be called”

            This isn’t about a float and if you think it is, you’re a fucking cretin.

          • CaligulaJones

            Your politics is getting in the way of a reasoned argument. Probably because you can never seem to mount one, so fall back on empty invective.

            Try to follow:

            1) he isn’t homophobic as he is ok with the parade itself
            2) he is ok with the float in the parade representing TDSB
            3) he wants to know if the city will uphold the law
            4) if the answer to #3 is negative, he has a duty to recommend removing the float

            Why would he just vote to remove the float? Can’t the city just answer his very simple question?

          • torontothegreat

            school trustees want a guarantee from City Hall is not the same as “asking a question”.

            He knows damn well that nudity will be on display there, he has said he’s witnessed it every year he’s attended, it’s a rhetorical question – he can easily just vote “no” for the float.

            The fact that he’s escalating this to the City for ENFORCEMENT has nothing to do with the float but everything to do with his thinly veiled homophobia and crude, attention seeking behaviour that he has a long history of.

            Also, why wasn’t this an issue last year for him? He claims to have attended before becoming a trustee. Why not make a big deal about the annual naked bike ride that he knows about but hasn’t had any sort of grievance with?

            Your politics is getting in the way of a reasoned argument.

            My politics have nothing to do with this argument, how you reach that conclusion is beyond me. You don’t even know my politics or anything about me.

            Seriously, you may want to remove your head from your ass.

          • CaligulaJones

            “”They will
            ask the Toronto District School Board Wednesday to agree to ask”

            Someone who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “ask” should
            probably refrain from parroting the “You have some serious comprehension problems”
            meme.

            “You don’t even know my politics or anything about me.”

            ALL progressives say that…

          • torontothegreat

          • CaligulaJones

            “Shut up”, he explained…

          • David Church

            The legal misinformation you are repeating is that public nudity at Pride is illegal. Judges have already ruled that nudists marching in the Pride Parade fall under a political protest exemption.
            (The Star failed to include the case law and precedents also.)

          • CaligulaJones

            a) thank you. In one clear post you made more sense than fuck head did in a dozen or so.

            b) what legal misinformation? I don’t believe I was arguing for or against it one way or the other, and certainly didn’t offer anything concerning legality. Just questioning the logic of attacking someone who thinks its part of his job to get all the details before he signs off on something.

            c) http://dailyxtra.com/toronto/news/ontario-judge-upholds-public-nudity-law

            I read that the day it was posted, so yes, I am aware of the issue. I will reserve the right to believe there is a difference between nudism, naturalism and exhibitionism.

            d) I’m a bi libertarian, so anyone assuming I have anything against homosexuality or nudity is wrong

          • torontothegreat

            Judging by the upvotes on my post(s), it’s YOU that has a hard time with comprehension.

            It’s not everyone else, it’s just you!

          • torontothegreat

            You STILL aren’t getting it are you? Man, I have never seen such a preschool lack of comprehension from one person, whom I presume is an adult, in my entire life.

            The legal misinformation is that “Judges have already ruled that nudists marching in the Pride Parade fall under a political protest exemption” as mentioned by the post you are responding to.

            The link you provided has nothing at all to do with this issue as demarked by the sub-heading which reads: “Ruling won’t affect TNTmen or Pride”

            So, I’m not really sure why you seem to have such a hard time with such a basic comprehension of the words that are being written, but yea, get some help maybe?

  • Dogma

    Sam Sotiropoulos has found himself a nice little wedge issue to draw attention to himself. Kudos to him. Is this an election year?

    • jimro

      Exactly! Whoever even heard of him before he got on to this bandwagon and bared his ass.

  • Marc

    This sounds like “reverse racism”. Is this the next pet topic of Fox News?

  • EDMUNDOCONNOR

    Dog whistle, ahoy!

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    How exactly is the matter of naked people, in the middle of summer, a school issue?

    Fire that idiot and his supporters for wasting time.

  • vampchick21

    How the hell do people like this get voted into governmental positions?

    • nevilleross

      Old people who have no fracking business voting, apathetic young people who don’t vote, and general Christian fundamentalist homophobia bullshit disseminated over the media.

      As much as I hate to say this, many of the older people who put Sotiropoulos (and Ford) into power should be dissuaded from voting in municipal matters ever again.

    • dsmithhfx

      The TDSB is a bully pulpit!

    • torontothegreat

      Because people just mark X next to either a random name or a name they like or a name they saw lots of signs for.

  • http://www.miroslavglavic.ca Miroslav Glavic

    Sam will not be running in Ward 39. I lived, worked and went to school in Agincourt. I know the guy. my parents even had Sam’s sign during last election.

  • http://www.miroslavglavic.ca Miroslav Glavic

    You can express your sexuality or anything else you want, within the law.

    What if my way to express my sexuality would involve killing your mother? would you be ok with that? There is a ban on nudity in Canada.

    • https://www.torontosisters.org NSr Twistfist

      Yes – they are exactly the same thing. How foolish of me. Not to see that.

    • torontothegreat

      Next thing you know people will want to marry dogs!!!!!!!!!!

    • MER1978

      I really don’t get how someone who claims they’ve volunteered for PRIDE (a festival which started as a protest against police pulling half naked men out of a bath house and onto the street) every year for the last 6-8 years can honestly have a big issue with this.

  • FourOneSix

    I’m gay and I can’t agree with this comment! Walking around with your junk out of your trunk isn’t expressive of being gay. If that’s how YOU express yourself as being gay, then you should be locked up. Pride started because of intolerance and inequality. Not because someone wanted to walk down the street with their meat out.

    • https://www.torontosisters.org NSr Twistfist

      How sad for you that you have to judge someone else for their beliefs and dismiss them as needing to be “locked up”.

      • John Atticus

        Everyone, yourself included, judges and dismisses certain beliefs.

    • rich1299

      These sorts of comments are always so sad in my opinion. The male nudists/naturalists are mostly members of a gay group called TNT MEN. They have nude or nearly nude gatherings all through out the year and have every right to march in Pride as any other LGBT group or organization. Pride is for all LGBT Torontonians and not just those you personally approve of.

      Especially considering LGBT history its repugnant to think of LGBT people censoring or banning other LGBT people because they don’t approve of the way they express themselves. If it wasn’t for the right of freedom of expression Pride wouldn’t exist at all and its extremely unlikely LGB Canadians would the have the legal equality we have today.

      Legal equality for trans people is still elusive, its still perfectly legal to evict trans Canadians from their homes or to fire them from their jobs just for being who they are across much of Canada. The legislation passed the HoC to add gender identity to the federal HR code but the Harper Con senators are keeping it from becoming law.

      • John Atticus

        “Pride is for all LGBT Torontonians and not just those you personally approve of. its repugnant to think of LGBT people censoring or banning other LGBT people because they don’t approve of the way they express themselves.”

        If you really believe this statement, than you must support a group that wants a float that features a full-blown graphic BDSM rape scene.

        That is how that group is choosing to express their sexuality, therefor you must support it.

        OR

        You can acknowledge that there is a standard of acceptable behaviour at Pride, and that the line that divides what is or isn’t acceptable changes slightly from person to person.

        For someone else, full-frontal nudity may be over the line, for you, it may be graphic, violent sex scenes. Both of you still “censor” freedom of expression using the classic logic of “your rights end where my begin”

        Pride is not an event of limitless freedom of expression, it takes place in public on Canada’s main street during Canada Day weekend. Compromises were always made in the past and continue to be made now.

        Someone is not “sad” or homophobic because their standard of what is or isn’t acceptable in public is different from yours.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          For some people, two people of the same sex holding hands or kissing in public is “over the line”.

          • John Atticus

            Anyone who is okay with hetero couples kissing in public but not gay couples is homophobic.

            But that’s not what we’re talking about here:

            We’re talking about one standard of acceptable behaviour that applies to everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

            I haven’t seen anyone saying “We need to ban gay full-frontal but allow straight full-frontal nudity”

          • rich1299

            The same argument was used in censoring the lives of LGBT people and banning legal equality. After all everyone had the same rights before legal equality for LGB people (full equality for trans people has happened yet thanks to the Senate).

            Just because LGB people couldn’t make use of the exact same rights as hetero Canadians doesn’t mean we didn’t have them. There was also one acceptable standard of behaviour that applied to everyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation back when it was still illegal to have same-sex sex. It wasn’t only illegal for homosexuals to have same-sex sex, it was also illegal for heterosexuals to have same-sex sex so no discrimination there apparently.

            So why individual freedoms for some but not for all? Its not harming anyone or interfering with anyone’s rights to see a nudist march at Pride. Especially considering its just one day of the year in one small part of the city and for a parade march all about individual freedoms and sexuality.

        • rich1299

          First off comparing nudists marching in Pride to raping someone is so far off base, there is no equivalency at all between the two things. There are BDSM types marching in their full gear for Pride, some whipping or paddling as they go, and full displays of BDSM activity in the street fair.

          I find it sad because these are LGBT people who’ve demanded they not be discriminated against or forced to pretend they’re someone they’re not just because of who they are yet they are yet at the same time they insist that certain other LGBT people be discriminated against and forced to pretend they’re someone they’re not just for being who they are. In this case nudists but there’s been similar complaints about the BDSM marchers and even the drag queens in the past. There are lots of LGBT people like that and I used to be one of them at one point in my life but I was forced to seriously think about it and changed as a result. Why should I or anyone else have any individual freedoms if we are denying others their individual freedoms? Its called a liberation movement and not a normalization movement for a reason.

          There’s also issues of internalized homophobia involved. Wanting so badly to be just like all the normal people and the embarrassment at being associated with segments of the LGBT population that are far from normal. Its a theme that comes up in a lot of such comments opposing LGBT nudists marching in Pride.

          Things have changed quite a bit over the years and a significant segment of the LGBT population started being seen as and accepting their new place as “normal” people in our society as bigotry faded. That’s great and everyone should have the right to live their lives as they best see fit. Btw I fall into this camp more than any other myself. But when this segment start insisting that other less normal or downright “freakish” segments of the LGBT community start covering up, both literally and figuratively, when in the public eye at Pride and act normal it becomes a problem.

          Read the comments at the Xtra story on this issue and you’ll see very blatant comments supporting banning nudists from marching because they’re not normal or family friendly or the right image of LGBT people Pride should be showing the rest of society. Its common for LGBT people to crave the feeling of normalcy but the liberation movement is all about people’s rights not to be normal.

          Being LGBT isn’t normal and never will be since we’ll never make up more than a small minority of the population. Just like the LGBT minority in our society shouldn’t be forced to live as if they were hetero or have to pretend they’re hetero to participate in society so too the segments of the LGBT community who are somehow “freakish” shouldn’t be forced to live like most LGBT people or have to pretend they’re like most LGBT people to participate in Pride or LGBT society.

          Besides which parades aren’t supposed to be about the normal and full of normal every day people. There’s a reason why Pride draws far more people than St Patrick’s Day parade does. Its the same with Caribana which is rooted in the Carnival tradition that’s all about not being normal and breaking from normalacy.

        • David Church

          Comparing the natural human body to violent rape? Surprised you didn’t throw in a reference to Hitler.

          The difference is that everyone was born naked. There is nothing indecent or offensive about it alone – although we assign all sorts of values, judgments and evilness to it.

          Violent rape is not natural. It intentionally damages the human body and spirit.

  • John Atticus

    “Nude marchers are a minority – but even so they have every right to express their sexuality as the clothed marchers.”

    Nudism / Naturalism is not a sexual orientation, nor does it have anything to do with sexuality.

    Sexualizing the nude body is actually antithetical to the movement’s values.

    • David Church

      TTC buses, ambulances and fire trucks in the parade have nothing to do with sexuality either. Except that TTC staff, paramedics and firemen riding on them are LGBT.

      I think sexualizing of the nude body is being done by those opposed to public nudity. The gay nudists are just nudists who are also gay.

  • Chrisdj99

    Want to be treated like an equal, then behave like an equal. My long held and unpopular opinion, as a gay man. Nudity at caribana, taste of the danforth, etc is unacceptable…why are we so special? We aren’t. That said, TDSB does have bigger fish to fry.

    • rich1299

      No one is stopping you from being just like prudish heteros but it certainly isn’t up to you or anyone else to try and stop how anyone else lives their lives or how they express themselves. Besides which there are plenty of hetero nudist/naturalist groups across Ontario but just one gay one that marches in Toronto Pride, TNT MEN. Pride isn’t about trying to convince anti-LGBT bigots we’re just like them, why would any LGBT person want to be just like an anti-LGBT bigot anyways? Its for all LGBT Torontonians from those who who want to be just like prudish heteros, the kink crowd, the nudists, and every other sort of LGBT group or person.

      • andrew97

        “Prudish heteros”, huh. You know, even if this one asshole is opposing public nudity to push homophobia, it doesn’t mean that it’s homophobic to oppose public nudity. I don’t really care about it in the pride parade (where nudity is expected, and could be viewed as protected political speech), but I don’t particularly want to see somebody’s junk while in line at Tim Hortons. There is a longstanding cultural taboo — and yes, law — around this issue, one that I support in my prudish heteroness as you put it. If that’s homophobic, then judging by this thread there are plenty of gays who are themselves homophobes.

        • rich1299

          Internalized homophobia hasn’t stopped being an issue just because of legal equality.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            It’s a stretch to equate prudishness in homosexuals with internalized homophobia – being gay doesn’t mean you’re a nudist or appreciate wanton displays of genitalia out of certain contexts. You wouldn’t call a prudish straight person internally heterophobic.

          • Quechua

            Except that the discussion is almost always between men about male nudity. When seemingly heterosexual men start complaining about female nudity we usually call them closeted.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Women don’t count when they complain, I guess.

    • craigbear

      And my long held opinion as a gay man is that it’s not my job to police the rest of the gay community. I’m not the type to get naked in public — body image, yadda yadda — but if someone else wants to do it that’s none of my damn business.

    • OgtheDim

      Wait…there’s nudity at Taste of the Danforth?

      How would anybody notice all jammed together like an open air chicken smelling version of the Yonge Subway line?

  • OgtheDim

    I’m not sure sexual expression has the same rights in this land as sexual orientation,

  • Seb

    What is more offensive to me is the rebranding of Pride by removing GAY, the borderline offensive corporate marketing (TD boyzzz) and the Israel bashing I see every year more so than the 8-12 naked men out of tens of thousands of participants. This event is not the sounding place for Middle Eastern politics, it’s about LGBT people, OUR struggle for basic human rights and we do not need approval from organizations who suffer from a moral superiority complex like many of those who, unfortunately, deal with educating children.

  • torontothegreat

    this is supposed to be a family-friendly event

    Says the guy who labels children

    ill-bred twerps

  • torontothegreat

    Doth protest too much?

  • http://www.NudistDatingSites.net/ NudistSingle.net

    nudists have own right! it’s normal to be naked!

  • torontothegreat

    Sam Sotiropoulos ‏@TrusteeSam 3m
    If you’re white, straight and male you’re SOL at #TDSB as nobody is using you as a pretext to funnel money into their pet projects. #TOpoli