Toronto school poster accused of supporting polygamy

The depiction of three-person relationships stirred controversy. Illustration: www.
The depiction of three-person relationships stirred controversy. Illustration: www.
Published October 4, 2012

In its efforts to make school a “safe and positive space,” the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has been slammed for printing a gender-equality poster that some say endorses polygamy.

Its “Love has No Gender” poster, one in a series of five, shows a number of public-restroom-sign males and females enshrined in multicoloured hearts in various configurations: two females, two males, a male-female combo and combos of able-bodied and wheelchair-bound people. The big eyebrow raisers, however, are the hearts containing two males and a female and a male and two females.

One critic of the posters, the conservative commentator Rev. Charles McVety, president of Toronto’s Canada Christian College, said they may teach children to question their gender identity, and, worse, endorse polygamy. (Conservatives have argued that legalized polygamy is the ultimate outcome of legalized same-sex marriage.)

According to TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird, however, the true intent of the posters, which are part of the board’s Gender-Based Violence Prevention program-is to support an individual’s right to choose whom they love, regardless of gender. “For example, the reason for depicting two women and one man was meant to show that a person can be attracted to more than one gender,” said Bird in media interviews. He added that the board does not endorse polygamy.

One commentator feared that the board’s zeal for political correctness would offend people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds who might misread the poster’s intent. Other posters in the series, accessible at, depict boys dressed in female clothing or playing with dolls and a school of fish proclaiming, “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re in your school.”

According to the board, the posters are supposed to affirm and support “all sexual identities, biological sexes, sexual orientations, gender expressions and gender identities.”


  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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