Canada 'We are not just rumours': Students walk out to protest sexual misconduct in TDSB schools

11:21  12 may  2018
11:21  12 may  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

Consent to be emphasized in Alberta schools

  Consent to be emphasized in Alberta schools EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says more initiatives to combat sexual violence are on the way and will include teaching the concept of consent in schools. "We'll be looking at some work at all grade levels. How do we talk about consent as early as kindergarten and moving all the way through to Grade 12?" Notley told a news conference Tuesday. "We need everybody to learn what consent is and how fundamental it is to relationships between people. They need to learn that at a very young age and be comfortable talking about it."Education Minister David Eggen said teaching consent is part of the government's ongoing curriculum review.

Students at Hardbord Collegiate Institute staged a walkout Friday following a series of cases of sexual misconduct in schools across Ontario. Not Just Rumours a growing movement. " We are asking for students ' allegations in all cases of sexual misconduct to be taken seriously," said student

Toronto high school students plan to walk out of class Friday to show the provincial government that more needs to be done to protect students from teachers who engage in sexual abuse or misconduct .

a group of people standing in front of a building: High school students at several schools across Toronto staged a walkout Friday to break what they call a 'code of silence' around teachers who sexually harass students.© Pelin Sidki/CBC High school students at several schools across Toronto staged a walkout Friday to break what they call a 'code of silence' around teachers who sexually harass students.

Students chanted outside Harbord Collegiate Institute Friday during a walkout to protest against the way the school handles allegations of sexual abuse involving staff and students.

"We are breaking the silence over sexual misconduct in schools to make sure that no student ever has to experience what we have experienced," said one student as her voice boomed through a speaker. "Our voices are not just rumours and we are not just rumours."

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Students at thousands of schools across the country walked out of class at 10 a . m . Wednesday to protest gun violence and to mark one month since a mass shooting in Florida. But there were reports of some schools where students were not allowed to hold protests or were penalized if they did.

But some school districts have already threatened to suspend students who walk out , and many prestigious colleges have responded by assuring prospective students that protest -related suspensions would not affect their admission.

The students walked out of classes at the high school, located near Bathurst and Harbord streets, following multiple allegations that a staff member sexually harassed students. Students at several other high schools across the city staged walk outs, as well, to support the growing Not Just Rumours movement.

"While we encourage students to express their views in a respectful and responsible manner, we're also trying to ensure that they do so safely," said TSDB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz in a statement to CBC Toronto, adding that the accused teacher has been put on home assignment pending a board investigation.

No criminal charges have been laid.

Not Just Rumours a growing movement

"We are asking for students' allegations in all cases of sexual misconduct to be taken seriously," said student Hannah McCammon.

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The riot comes just months after middle school students at a school in the Chicago suburbs protested their school ’s rules against leggings. Students at Hardbord Collegiate Institute staged a walkout Friday following a series of cases of sexual misconduct in schools across Ontario.

Kincheloe and school district officials did not immediately return requests from BuzzFeed News for comment. Jenkins said students had been told they could go to the gym for the protest , rather than walk out of the building, but that most had dismissed the idea because the walkout would not have

She wants procedures put in place so students are properly protected and that their safety is never in jeopardy.

a person standing in front of a fence: Hannah McCammon was one students involved in the demonstration.© Pelin Sidki/CBC Hannah McCammon was one students involved in the demonstration.

McCammon said the students are also asking for resources "they can go to so they can begin to recover from the incident."

Sara Escallon-Sotomayor, a student at the school, started a petition last month on Change.org asking Ontario Education Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris to amend the Protecting Students Act.

"Oftentimes the disciplinary actions taken against the perpetrators in these cases amount to little more than a slap on the wrist, when in reality, they should have their teaching licences revoked to guarantee student safety at all times," Escallon-Sotomayor wrote on the petition page.

Licences will now be revoked

Not only did the petition gain over 17,000 signatures, but it prompted a response from the minister's office.

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- A couple hundred students walked out of South Eugene High School just after 11 Friday morning. The students say it's in protest of how the school handles sexual assault.

The gates outside the school were padlocked to ward off visitors. Students pouring out of Brookwood high in Gwinnet supporting the national walkout . We don’t have much security. It feels like anyone really can just walk in. We ’ve had a few active shooter drills (since Parkland) but it’s not enough.

a group of people standing next to a fence: Students walked out of school Friday afternoon.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Students walked out of school Friday afternoon.

"This week, the government passed legislation to strengthen the disciplinary actions for teachers and early childhood educators, aligning them with regimens for health professionals. Changes include the mandatory revocation and suspensions of certificates of registration for findings of guilt involving acts of sexual abuse," Heather Irwin, a spokesperson for Naidoo-Harris, said in a statement to CBC Toronto.

"This will help ensure that the College of Teachers and the College of Early Childhood Educators further have the tools they need to respond to cases of professional misconduct and make sure student safety is prioritized," Irwin said.

But students and parents at the demonstration said it's still not enough, and criticized the school's handling of the sex abuse allegations against the staff member.

'We saw her acting more depressed'

"Here at Harbord, we want to see that the school administration who really handled this very badly is held to account for that," said Stephen McCammon, father of Hannah McCammon. "And that hasn't happened yet."

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Students at least three Toronto high schools plan to walk out of class this Friday to demand the provincial government take action to protect students from teachers who engage in sexual abuse or misconduct .

a man wearing a yellow shirt: Stephen McCammon, father of Hannah McCammon, is part of a group of concerned parents who have been meeting regularly since January.© Pelin Sidki/CBC Stephen McCammon, father of Hannah McCammon, is part of a group of concerned parents who have been meeting regularly since January.

This father is part of a group of concerned parents at the high school who came together in January to "try to push for an accountable school when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment.

Big picture, he said, these parents want a school system that better tracks students' allegations, ensures they are taken care of, and reports back to the community.

Stephen McCammon said he and other parents felt they were left in the dark and isolated when it came to the allegations against the school teacher.

"We were discouraged from that free flow of information," he said.

Once the allegations started being discussed openly, he said he saw a dramatic change in his daughter.

"The change in our daughter has been quite incredible. She found her voice. She found her peers."

Picnic will celebrate a neighbourhood that’s still shaken by van attack .
Parents at a Willowdale public school have partnered with local groups for a Victoria Day picnic to help students feel safer after the Yonge St. van rampage.The picnic at Mel Lastman Square on Monday is a collaboration between the parent advisory council at Churchill Public School, the Toronto District School Board, the #TorontoStrong fund and We Love Willowdale, a community group set up to help residents “heal and reclaim” a sense of safety after the attack.© Steve Russell Community organizations are planning a picnic at Mel Lastman Square, near the site of the Yonge St.

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