Toronto students stage mass walkout over sex-ed curriculum
As many as 40,000 Ontario high school students are cutting class on Friday afternoon to protest the province's reintroduction of sex-ed lessons from 1998.
They may not be old enough to vote, but they want to make it known that they don't consent to the PC government's education policies — which is fair, given that they're the ones most impacted.
"Doug Ford has taken away our sex education, our LGBTQ+ education, and our Indigenous education," reads an event listing for the planned demonstrations.
"He has put hundreds of thousands of students in jeopardy and ignored the advisory of hundreds of experts, teachers, unions, and school boards," it continues.
"Many groups have shown their opposition for these actions, but now it's time for the students of Ontario to show Ford that we do not consent."
More than 100 schools are participating in the protest, according to organizers, in an effort to reinstate both the indigenous curriculum and more modern sex-ed lessons introduced by the Liberal government in 2015.
At present, teachers are mandated to use a version of Ontario's sex-ed curriculum from 20 years ago — written before iPhones, Facebook and legal same-sex marriages even existed in Canada.
A few hundred students at @NorthTorontoCI join in on the 1:00 p.m. walkout across Toronto to protest Premier Ford’s government cancelling the 2015 sex ed curriculum, that includes LGBTQ content. Also rallying for more First Nations content in school. @680NEWS pic.twitter.com/lCuEJcALVT— Mark Douglas (@Douglas680NEWS) September 21, 2018
Students, parents and teachers alike have spoken out against the move, calling the government's decision irresponsible, discriminatory and reckless.
"The Ford government has thrown the system into uncertainty," said Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario president Sam Hammond at a press conference on the first day of school this year.
"The actions of the government to rescind the 2015 curriculum undermines the very safety and well-being of Ontario students and families."
The EFTO, one of several bodies that have sued Ontario since Ford took the helm in late June, is still seeking an an injunction to keep the 2015 curriculum in place and squash the PC government's anonymous reporting line for teachers who won't return to the older curriculum.
Today is #WeTheStudentsDoNotConsent Ontario Walkout 2018! 40,000 students will be leaving class to walk out against Premier Doug Ford's repeal of the sex ed and indigeious curriculums. #MarchforOurEducation #WalkOutForOurEducation #topoli #onpoli #cdnpoli @MarchEducation pic.twitter.com/1zGqTErZKV— Frank Hong (@frankjhong) September 21, 2018
Participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #WeTheStudentsDoNotConsent and wear purple.
The students appear to have mobilized through social media and the use of Google Docs, where instructions and information are being shared between protest organizers.
It's not only high school students participating, either. Footage from active protests are coming in from elementary schools as well. The curriculum affects students from Grades 1 to 12.
So proud of my daughter and her grade 7 classmates @HopewellAvePS @OCDSB #WeTheStudentsDoNotConsent #WalkOutForOurEducation #TRC #SaveSexEd #OttawaCentre #ottpoli #canfem #cdnfem pic.twitter.com/gufa1BOOSP— Irene Jansen (@Jansen_Irene) September 21, 2018
Same goes for Ontario universities.
40000 students across ontario are walking out right now. I had no idea three weeks ago that this idea would become largest student walkout in ontario's history. the young people will always win. #WeTheStudentsDoNotConsent #ONpoli #topoli pic.twitter.com/9JQ0Hpk6Lh— rayne (@rayneydaes) September 21, 2018
Some school administrators have reportedly discouraged students from participating, but on the whole, adults seem very supportive of what these young Ontarians are doing.
1000+ students from 4 schools congregate in W Toronto to resist Ford govt's attempt to turn back the clocks of knowledge and inclusion by 20 years. 100+ more schools doing the same. Beautiful! #WeTheStudentsDoNotConsent pic.twitter.com/7zhU4CBDGQ— Jim Stanford (@JimboStanford) September 21, 2018
The yutes, ladies and gentlemen. They're pretty cool.
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