Educators’ duty: stop homophobic bullying -ETFO
Educators have a duty to stop bullying, homophobic behaviour: ETFODay of Pink a celebration and reminder that every student needs a safe place to learn
Toronto, ON – In anticipation of the Day of Pink, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is challenging educators to do everything they can to make schools safe for all students.
The call comes as schools, communities, and workplaces around the world get set to mark the International Day against Bullying, Discrimination and Homophobia, or Day of Pink, on April 13 each year.
“It is imperative that we as educators ensure that every student at every school has a safe place to learn,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “We know that embracing diversity and respect for others are learned behaviours. That means that educators at both elementary and secondary levels have a tremendous opportunity to create a climate where bullying, discrimination and homophobia are not tolerated.”
The first Day of Pink was begun in Nova Scotia in 2007 when two students heard about a male student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. They bought pink T-shirts and had students wear a ‘sea of pink’ to take a stand against the bullying. In Ontario, the Ministry of Education’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy introduced in 2009 requires all boards and schools to create and support a positive school climate that fosters and promotes equity and diversity.
“The Day of Pink is a creative way to celebrate equity and diversity but it is up to teachers to help students permanently embrace those values,” added Hammond, who will sport a pink shirt on April 13. “Even at the elementary school level, there are many ways that teachers can promote diversity in age-appropriate ways and ensure that classrooms are welcoming for all students.”
Hammond said that there is much more work to be done, given that three-quarters of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, and 95% of transgender students, feel unsafe at school according to a 2009 national school survey by EGALE Canada.
“Unfortunately, it has taken a series of high profile gay and lesbian teen suicides in the past year to remind us how vulnerable lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are,” said Hammond. “No child should ever be driven to the point of suicide by bullying behaviours. As educators, we have a duty to do everything we can to stop such behaviour.”
ETFO, which represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and educational professionals across Ontario, has promoted a Positive Space Campaign with posters and educational resources about LGBT topics for teachers for over a decade.
For more information, contact:
Valerie Dugale, ETFO Media Relations: Cell: 416-948-0195