Christopher Karas, a gay Mississauga high school student, is currently at the centre of a battle with his French Catholic school over what he calls homophobia. While he wages on for gay rights in the courtroom we caught up with him to chat about his views on the history of gay rights in Canada, funding for religious schools, helping young people get involved, and his own future beyond the halls of high school.
What is wrong with Queer and Trans rights in Canada right now?
Queer and Trans rights are human rights and every person has a right to feel safe, loved, accepted, and respected for who they are. This is why I organised a safe space under the Accepting Schools Act and when I had been denied the right for over a year and a half I wanted to do something now to make schools in my community safer. As such, I have paired with JersVision.org to run the Dare to Stand Out: The GSA Forum (DTSO). Canada is proud to be a human rights leader on the world stage and yet Queer and Trans rights are often neglected here in Canada. Queer and Trans rights have shown to be punishable by law in over 80 countries in the world today, to simply be yourself. I have recently collaborated with activist to build an #EndHateLaws campaign, please join us on Twitter @Endhatelaws Follow me @KarasChrist
What have we gotten right since the Queer and Trans movement began?
The Queer and Trans movement started when we started fighting for human rights. The human rights movement got it right when we recognised our very own rights and the rights of others.
Should the government be funding religious schools?
I think that it should be up to the people to have a debate in [upcoming elections]. We fundamentally protect the right of freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression yet we exclusively fund the Roman-Catholic school system while denying funding to freedom of conscience and religious schools.
How can young people get involved in changing the situation for LGBTQ people?
As a youth it can often be difficult to find where we fit in and what we can do to make a difference. I have always wanted to get involved and contribute to the community abroad. I am the former vice president of the representative association of the students of my school board AESD, CSDCCS and former coordinator of Franc Parler an initiative of Action Positive a partner of the Aids Committee of Toronto. I was recently nominated LGBTQ Youth of the Year at the Inspire Awards. Getting involved can be as simple as helping out at the local women’s shelter and seeking new opportunities to get involved. Young people can get involved at their local nonprofit organisation and or at a national organisation such as JersVision.org. Jeremy Dias is a great friend of mine that ounce fought his school board. He won the second largest settlement in Canada and has built Jer’s Vision, a youth led organization that is a leader in anti-bullying and anti-discrimination programming.
What do you see ahead for yourself once you are out of high school?
Ahead of high school I have my heart set on building a business and I’m interested in getting involved in politics. I will be going to Humber College in September for Business Administration.