International Day of Pink 2024

This year, our OPHEA team (teachers and students) planned some events to celebrate the International Day of Pink. Although it fell on April 10th, we moved it to April 19th to not conflict with the celebration of Eid. Teachers could share videos and explore activities in their classroom on Pink Day (April 10th) as well as wearing pink on both days.

 

We met several times before our event to plan out exciting activities for our students in grade K- 8. Before selecting activities, we browsed the Home (2023) — Intl. Day of Pink website and watched videos, read ways to be involved and explored the themes for the year. This year, there were some key anniversaries to celebrate:

  • The 50th Anniversary of the Brunswick Four
  • The 25th Anniversary of the Trans Flag

 

After our planning sessions, we came up with the following activities in the gym for April 19th:

  • Photo Booth with Day of Pink back drop 
  • Colouring with Pride- Coloring pages provided by the day of pink website Colouring with Pride — Intl. Day of Pink
  • Visibility Rainbow- writing on a sticky note what it means to be visible 
  • Face painting- students received a rainbow or heart on their face at the facepaint station 
  • Pink Day Pledge- students put a thumb print on the pledge to sign their agreement with the pledge DoP_Poster_EN.indd (squarespace.com)
  • Positive fortunes- we had some students in the middle of the gym providing positive fortunes to students 
  • Friendship bracelets- each colour standing for a specific personality trait

 

The day ran smoothly, starting with a group reading of the pledge and then students could transition between each activity with their classmates. At the end of the day, the OPHEA student leaders cleaned up the gym. The day went well and students had a great time planning and carrying out the event. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next year! 

 

thank you

It’s been a while since I’ve gushed, but as I was driving to school this week, I started thinking about ways I could show more gratitude for all of the good things that are happening in my professional life. This got me thinking about the staff at my school. In each aspect of the organization, there is much to be appreciated from our incredible office staff, caretakers, EAs, CYWs, DECEs, and admin. In that spirit, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Since this the core of readers of this blog are ETFO members, I will continue before the music plays me off and before being escorted off the stage. Here goes…

Thank you for putting in all the hours that make a difference in the
lives of learners before, during, and after school. 

Thank you for being the only smile that a child might see each day.
Thank you for being the hand that reaches out to a student who is feeling big feelings.
Thank you for being the one who comforts in times of uncertainty.
Thank you for being calm, considerate, and caring when things are not going well. 
Thank you for making sure that new kids feel welcome from the moment they
walk through your doorway. 

Thank you for teaching the basics.
Thank you for teaching the basics over and over again. 
Thank you for teaching the tough stuff.
Thank you for teaching the tough stuff over and over again.
Thank you for teaching morphemes, phonemes, and graphemes.

Thank you for providing accommodations regardless of identification(s) or not. 
Thank you for teaching number sense and problem solving,
and for teaching it over and over again. 
Thank you for extending due dates when needed,
and for allowing retests when things don’t go well the first time. 

Thank you for working hard over the summer to prepare for curriculum changes
even though you should be taking time to rest and recover from the prior year.

Thank you for teaching about truth before reconciliation. 
Thank you for ensuring that Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) are represented in your instructional resources.
Thank you for reading culturally relevant stories that allow all students to see themselves within them.

Thank you for creating safe and engaging classrooms where everyone feels seen.
Thank you for ensuring that students feel seen and know that they matter.
Thank you for seeing that every learner is 10 out of 10 at something, 
and for helping them discover and develop their unique talents. 
Thank you for hosting a GSA meeting and for displaying a “safe space” sticker. 
Thank you for running clubs and coaching teams. 
Thank you for spending recess after recess sitting in your classroom so students can catch up on their work.
Thank you for making accommodations that support the faith expressions of learners. 

Thank you for helping each other out by sharing resources. 
Thank you for answering questions and offering guidance to those who have recently entered our wonderful profession. 

There is always time for gratitude in this profession and this is my chance to show my appreciation if I haven’t mentioned it enough above. Thank you for all you do. Will

International Day of Pink

On Wednesday, April 12th students at my school (along with many other students and staff in our board) celebrated the “International Day of Pink”. This day is different from “Pink Shirt Day” which was celebrated earlier in the year in February. The International Day of Pink is a day to stand up against bullying, especially against members from the 2SLGBTQ+ community. “We believe when we wear pink on Day of Pink April 12th, 2023, we join the stance in having the courage to be yourself, to be kind, and so much more.” (https://www.dayofpink.org/en/home-2023)

This year’s theme was “Courage” so when planning for our school’s event, we talked about how can we embrace this theme in our school-wide activity day. As we started to plan, staff members mentioned that we should speak to our 2SLGBTQ+ positive space group first to get their ideas. They suggested poetry activities and other great ideas to be included in our day. Students from different classes in our school made posters, announcements and video advertisements about the day to get conversations started in classes about the meaning behind the day. Some videos included:

  • Students saying the Pink Day Pledge Pledge
  • Members of a school sports team sharing about times that they had shown courage
  • A video of 13 Trans and Queer Canadians that everyone should know Featured Canadians

These videos prepared students for activities that will be listed below that took place on the event day.

On the day of April 12th, teachers and students came together to prepare for the gym for a day of education and fun. Our stations were planned by a Committee of nine staff members who thought about activities that would be beneficial, educational and fun for students K-8. Each station was led by grade 7/8 student leaders. These students gathered together before hand to learn about what each station had to offer. I hope that you can use these acitivies next year as they all went off without a hitch and were loved by all.

International Day of Pink Activities

Colouring with Pride

Students used their prior learning from our video and were able to select a colouring sheet to colour about one of the 13 featured Trans and Queer Canadians. Link to this colouring book can be found above.

Photo Walkway

Students could wear some Pride related glasses, hats or pink items and take a walk down the rainbow/pink walkway. The walkway had a rainbow balloon arch around it so that students felt excited to walk down. It was great seeing students pose for photos with their friends. We will be making an iMovie of all the photos to send to teachers to show their students.

Poetry Station

Students could write poems while enjoying some quality time with their peers. We had pink cushions to sit on and a lava lamp for mood lighting. I was very excited to read a poem afterwards from one of my students who was proud to share what he had written. He was also one of the students who had come up with the idea for the station.

Pink Day Pledge

We had a station where students could read the International Day of Pink Pledge (which they had heard in their prior learning) and could agree that they would uphold that pledge by putting their finger print on it. We had pink stamp pads which students could use to place their finger on. They then would put their fingerprint on the pledge. We are getting this pledge laminated to hang somewhere in our school! A copy of the pledge can be found above.

Rainbow of Courage

We asked students to write on a sticky note about a time that they had courage. Our students leaders then stuck them on the rainbow. This is now hanging in the front of our school.

Friendship Bracelets

Students could make themselves or a friend a bracelet. One of our staff members thought about a meaning for each bead colour. So students could make the bracelets with meaning.

Positive Affirmations

One of our students had remembered an activity from a past pink day where students have their fortunes told. We changed that up a bit and had students sit with one of our student leaders and were told something positive about themselves. Our students leaders created 12 different positive affirmations and used those. This was a very popular part of our event as students went four or five times to hear a positive message.

Those were all of the acitivites we featured this year. We hope to think of more for next year as we heard from all students and staff that the students loved them all. We know that we educated our school community about the importance of being courageous to be yourself and to be kind to others. What did you do for Pink day this year?

 

Transgender Awareness Week

Earlier this month, my class participated in discussions about transgender awareness week. We looked into the website provided by my school board which offered us many ideas of how we could learn and listen. Here is the website: Transweek Webpage The part of the mentioned website titled “Tips for Allies of Transgender People” was very helpful as it went over various situations many of us had found ourselves in before. The tips page can be found here: Tips These tips can be helpful for students, teachers, family members, etc. as many things we are currently doing could potentially be harmful for our trans students. Even something that we may think is as simple as “We are having a transgender week discussion today” to a trans student could be triggering.

Each student had a chance to write on a sticky note how they could be a supportive ally during transgender week this year. Here are the ideas from my grade 7/8 students:

  • Don’t assume, don’t say the wrong pronouns
  • Learn more about the history or Trans Awareness Week, be supportive and do not make any assumptions
  • Tell everyone about awareness and ask them to spread awareness 
  • Do not be violent or rude to transgender people 
  • Do not make assumptions about transgender people and  their sexual orientation 
  • Be nice, be friends and never ask someone if they are trans 
  • Ask pronouns before assuming genders 
  • Help raise awareness and visibility of transgender people and the issues their community faces 
  • Try not to be rude, everyone can be who they want to people, be careful not to mis gender someone
  • Treat everyone the same, let them be who they want to be, show them that you care and that they can live their life. Never make someone share unless they want to 
  • Respect the person’s boundaries about their pronouns, sexual orientation and how they represent themselves 
  • Believing everyone should be what they want, they have a choice and they should be themselves and we shouldn’t judge that 
  • Post about in a respectful way (hashtag, etc), never ask what someone’s “real name” or use the wrong pronoun, respect them and their gender, listen if they would like to talk about their gender
  • Don’t make assumptions and listen first
  • Be supportive, respectful and respect boundaries and pronouns

I thought all of these ideas were incredible and are a clear sign of how supportive and respectful this generation is. I am really trying to be respectful and diligent in making sure I do not miss any of the Awareness weeks this year. I even left a full period open in my schedule to discuss them each week. I sometimes find it challenging to try to make them all into a lesson so sometimes a discussion is all you need. Discussing these real world topics is so important and I find it is often the most rewarding part of the week.

Looking forward to sharing next time about how our survey project has revealed our December celebrations and how we will celebrate them all equally.

A Day To Listen

September is a busy month in schools as teachers get to know their students, learn new curriculum, set up classroom norms and some teachers even have to deal with reorganization by the end of the month. It has been an especially busy start for my class as many students are new to our school and some are returning back to the classroom for the first time in almost three years. Getting into a routine has been challenging as I know the routine is an important thing to establish in September.

Having said that, September is an important month about Truth and Reconciliation. As September 30th is Truth and Reconciliation Day, schools prepare differently to reflect as a community. Our school spent time considering a school-wide assembly filled with student created land acknowledgements, a video of all students sharing why they wear orange, various poems, Indigenous art and highlights from the 94 Calls to Action. We shared our thoughts with Indigenous members within our board and were asked to remind the school community that Orange “Every Child Matters” shirts should be worn all year not just on September 30th. They also shared other ideas to ensure our assembly was culturally appropriate.

Students in my class as well as many others started looking at the Land Acknowledgement and thinking about what it really meant. Students hear it on the announcements every day but may not actually understand the meaning of the words. Many students came up with really well written versions and were going to read them to the school.

However, our board sent out an email stating that we needed to avoid assemblies on September 30th and that it would be better to reflect and listen within our own classrooms so that we could support student responses within the classroom. We were asked to concentrate on classroom activities instead. We decided to have students read their land acknowledgements over the announcements and some staff shared their student-created videos by email instead.

I was able to share the video with my class from our member ETFO news from September 28th, where Shawnee Talbot explains her connection to music. The video can be found if you click this link: Music is Medicine. My grade eight history class watched her TedxGrandJunction video about her life as a member of the Two Spirit community and how music has been such an integral part of her life. Students connected with their love for music and how it helps them during their times of need. It was a great discussion and I really encourage you to explore our ETFO news article from September 28th for more resources. The entire resource can be found here: Two Spirit Resource. 

I would like to close this post by sharing a reflective piece of writing by one of my students as she shares how she will help others remember the horrible past of Residential Schools:

“I pledge to remember the people who were here before us on this land and how they suffered in residential schools. Also, to help younger people to remember by telling stories, wearing an orange shirt, watching videos about Truth and Reconciliation and making posters to put up on walls. I would want my teacher to bring a friend or a member of the Indigenous Community to share about Truth and Reconciliation. We should also have moments of silence and reflection to honour the children who died in Residential Schools. I also want the people around to acknowledge that it is Truth and Reconciliation and respect the people who may have lost a family or friend in a Residential school.”

I share this post in a reflective lens and understand I am learning and listening each year as we reflect on the horrible past of our country. 

Supporting 2SLGBTQ+ Students and Families

In today’s current climate, most would agree that there has been a significant increase in the number of incidents being reported that are motivated by hate over the past few years. Our classrooms and school communities have not been spared. Many schools across the province have reported a rise in hate-based incidents. Many school boards are addressing these issues by  implementing action plans to combat anti-racism within their school communities. In the many schools that I have worked in, I seldom see strategies that specifically address 2SLGBTQ+ issues in our school community. I wonder why that is so?  What barriers might exist that impede the opportunity for students to learn about the 2SLGBTQ+ community? How can schools equitably teach and support 2SLGBTQ+ students and their families so that they too feel safe and welcomed in our schools? 

From my understanding, it seems that 2SLGBTQ+ families are one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing type of family structure in Canada, especially in our major cities across the province. These families are looking to us, as educators, to ensure that our classrooms and schools are welcoming spaces for their children. As such, I think that it’s important that 2SLGBTQ+ students see themselves reflected in the school environment and the curriculum.

In fact, teachers don’t need to wait for explicit curriculum expectations to teach about 2SLGBTQ+ realities in their classrooms. As educators, we have a moral and ethical obligation to do so.  Many school boards across the province are implementing strategies to support 2SLGBTQ+ students and families. However, more needs to be done to ensure consistency, accountability and equitable access to support, services and resources across the province. I feel it would be helpful to have clearer expectations embedded in the curriculum that address 2SLGBTQ+ issues and the lived realities that individuals who identify as 2SLGBTQ face in the community. With funding to support this, there would greater equity across the province when it comes to having access to resources and support for teachers, students and families. This is a matter of accountability and responsibility in providing quality, inclusive education for all students. I think 2SLGBTQ+ students and families deserve better from their education system, and better must come.

ETFO has put together 2SLGBTQ+ learning materials and resources for all grades to support teachers in the classroom. These materials and resources are geared towards helping teachers address issues of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia and create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all. 

ETFO 2SLGBTQ+ resources

ETFO has also created a brochure to support members that includes curriculum links, resources, useful language, and communication tips.

2SLGBTQ+ families brochure

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has a statement on the Ontario’s Health and Physical Education Curriculum that connects strongly with my post. Here is the link for your reference:

OHRC Statement: 2019 Health and Physical Education Curriculum | Ontario Human Rights Commission

Understanding Gender Neutral Pronouns

There is no doubt that I am very passionate about addressing issues related to equity and social justice, especially any work related to anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-homophobia. For me to fully understand and advocate for social justice and equity, it is important that I am aware of current challenges, barriers and inclusionary practices. However, I would be the first to admit that my knowledge of gender neutral pronouns requires further learning and understanding to ensure I am respectfully honouring the identities of staff and students (in fact, all people) in my community. So, I did some research for my own professional growth and I found out some interesting facts that I would like to share with you. 

It is understood that people who identify outside of a gender binary most often use nonbinary pronouns that are not gender specific. These include: they/them/their use in the singular form. However, I learned that there are other pronouns that are used, such as: ze (pronounced “zee”) in place of she/he and hir (pronounced “here”) in place of his/him/her. This was new learning for me that opened my eyes to the ways in which I address individuals and the assumptions I often make about their identities.

Assuming one’s identity and choice of pronouns based on how they look and/or how they dress can be false and disrespectful to one’s gender identity and gender expression. I learned that pronouns may or may not match one’s gender expression, such as how the person dresses, looks, behaves or what their name is.

In recognition and commitment to equity and inclusionary practices, as well as the Human Rights policies in Canada, it is encouraging to see more people, including workplaces and organizations, supporting individual’s use of self-identified pronouns, in place of assumed pronouns based one’s sex assigned at birth or other’s perceptions of physical appearance. It might seem a simple gesture to some, but it’s an important recognition for others. It’s about letting someone know that you accept their identity as they are. 

The response to the following questions might help you better understand gender pronouns and how you can affirm someone’s gender identity:

What’s the right way to find out a person’s pronouns?

If I was introducing myself to someone new, I would say, “Hi. My name is Gary. I use he/him pronouns. What about you?” However, do keep in mind that for many people who don’t identify as cisgender, it could be more difficult for them to share their pronouns, especially in spaces where they don’t know people and/or they don’t feel comfortable or accepted.

How is “they/them” used as a singular pronoun?

“They” is already commonly used as a singular pronoun when you are talking about someone and you don’t know who they are. Using they/them pronouns for someone you do know simply represents a slightly different way of thinking. In this case, you’re asking someone to not act as if they don’t know you, but to use non-binary vocabulary when they’re communicating with/about you.

What if I make a mistake and ‘misgender’ someone, or use the wrong words?

I would simply apologize for my error. It’s perfectly natural to not know the right words to use, especially when meeting someone for the first time. Consider addressing groups of people as “everyone”, “colleagues”, “friends”, “class” or “students” instead of “boys and girls.” The important thing is making that non-assuming connection with the person and being open to learning new things and new ways of understanding one’s identity. 

What does it mean if a person uses the pronouns “he/they” or “she/they”?

That means that the person uses both pronouns, and you can alternate between those when referring to them. So, either pronoun would be fine. However, be mindful that some people don’t mind those pronouns being interchanged for them, but for others, they might use one specific pronoun in one context and another set of pronouns in another context/space, dependent on maybe safety or comfortability in the space they occupy. The best approach is to listen to how people refer to themselves.

ETFO has a wealth of resources to support your teaching and learning of gender neutral pronouns. I found their Social Justice website very helpful in my research and understanding of gender neutral pronouns. In fact, ETFO has plenty of ETFO 2SLGBTQ+ Resources for students of all ages.

#16Days

November 25-December 10 is internationally known as the 16 days of activism to stand against and commit to ending gender-based violence. Black women and girls, FNMI women and girls, racialized women and girls, women and girls with disabilities and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are at high risk of gender-based violence. November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and December 10 is World Human Rights Day. Let’s amplify the voices of those who are subject to gender-based violence, listen, learn, and demand safety, inclusion and acceptance for all. Let’s begin these conversations in our classrooms. ETFO has provided some ideas here about how to get yourself and your students involved in the #16days of activism. 

The significance of the activism this year is greater than ever before due to the increasing amount of gender-based violence reported over the course of the pandemic. 

Gender-based violence facts 

Gender-based violence both directly and indirectly affects everyone. Victims of gender-based violence experience trauma that can be intergenerational in nature. To eradicate gender-based violence we must acknowledge it exists and victimizes people of all genders, races, abilities, sexualities, ages and classes in all geographic locations. We cannot advocate for feminism without intersectionality. 

What can we do?

  • Educate our students and community about gender-based violence from a trauma informed approach 
  • Educate even our youngest learners about the importance of consent and advocating for their own mental health and well-being
  • Listen and learn from experts, community organizations and survivors
  • Support local and global initiatives that commit to advocating for people of all genders and putting an end to gender based-violence 
  • Use our privilege as educators to advocate for change
  • Continue to model acceptance, inclusion and teach using an anti-oppressive framework

“Pink is a Girl Colour.”

If you teach young children, you may often hear their opinions about what is meant for ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ voiced on a daily basis:

 

“Pink is for girls” 

“Boys don’t wear pink”

 

Analyzing this through a feminist lens, this ideology and the socially constructed roles and responsibilities associated with gender are forced upon children from birth – and arguably even before birth. If you don’t believe me, think about the colour of blankets given to swaddle infants in hospitals. 

This is not just about pink. It’s about creating a learning space for students to be themselves, feel empowered and continuing to challenge injustices they encounter now and every day.

How can we challenge gender stereotypes in education?

  1. In a previous post, celebrating International Women’s Day – I stated that “You cannot have feminism without intersectionality”. In order for growth to occur, we must represent all people in our pedagogy -students who are part of the ​​2SLGBTQ+  community, students who are Black, FNMI students, students who belong to racialized and marginalized groups and students who have disabilities. Not only should students see themselves reflected, but their families, their friends, their neighbours, their community members, and other humans that walk this earth with them. We cannot dismantle one single stereotype without teaching from an ant-racist, anti-oppressive framework. 
  2. We can be mindful of the learning materials we use in our classrooms. From toys to textbooks, there are hidden messages about gender everywhere. One of my favourite (but really least favourite) examples to think about is kitchen centres for young children. Kitchen centres are wonderful learning spaces in Kindergarten classrooms and provide many opportunities for developing social and emotional skills, practicing math concepts and promoting oral language. Now, think about why many of these sets are pink? 
  3. We can include critical literacy and books that challenge social norms in our program on a regular basis.
  4. We can critically reflect on our own understandings of gender as a social construct, amplify the voices marginalized people and commit to continuous learning and growth by actively listening to our students needs. 

 

Pink is for everyone. 

 

 

Why I Teach Through an Equity and Anti-Oppressive Lens

Lately, it seems that all I hear throughout the education system is about equity and anti-oppression. These seem to be the latest buzzwords in our profession and they permeate throughout everything we do. Teachers are encouraged to develop a belief statement about equity and anti-oppression work and to embed it into their philosophy, pedagogy and teaching practices. However, have you ever stopped to seriously ask yourself, what does it really mean to teach through an equity and anti-oppressive lens? I have, and the answer was quite revealing. 

 

First, I had to reflect upon my own understanding of equity and anti-oppression in order to truly recognize my role and position as an educator. To me, equity is liberation of the mind, body and soul. It is a human right to have the freedom to think, act and feel in your true authentic self, without fear and discrimination. Equity is a sense of being included, valued and respected in all spaces and in all communities. Inequality and discriminations occur when certain spaces and communities deny you of your rights as a human being. Equity and Anti-oppression is a framework used to address and dismantle these inequities and discriminatory practices, which are often systemic in nature and deeply embedded into our habits and norms. Honestly, that took years for me to understand and to define through my own lens. I had to reflect upon how, and acknowledge that, my own (limited as they are) power and privilege (as a middle-class male educator) contributed to the systemic inequalities that exist in our society and throughout the education system. I also had to think about what role I could play to be an agent of change. I think my understanding of equity and anti-oppression align strongly with ETFO’s Equity Statement

 

Now, do I feel included, valued and respected in all spaces and in all communities in which I engage? Unfortunately the answer is more often no than yes. My race, ethnicity and sexual identity often impact how I think, act and feel in certain spaces and how others interact with me in those spaces. I find myself negotiating and navigating spaces on a daily basis. It can be quite exhausting and disempowering. So, why do I endure this disheartening experience time after time? For the same reason I became an educator. I strongly believe that all people, all students in particular, should be included, valued, and respected in all aspects of life, including their school community. Unfortunately that does not happen in all spaces and for all people/students. I know this because it happened to me as a student and it continues to happen to me as an adult educator. I see the inequities in our education policies and practices, in our classroom management practices and in our assessment and evaluation practices. Most notably, as a guidance counsellor, I am constantly advocating for the rights of Black and Indigenous students, and students in the Special Education system, to receive equitable treatment and access to resources and programs during the high school transition process. Everything that I am, through my lived experiences, and everything that I do for myself and others is embedded in an equity and anti-oppressive framework. 

 

I use ETFO’s Anti-Oppressive Framework to align my thinking and practice. Here is an excerpt from ETFO’s definition and statement: 

 

An anti-oppressive framework is the method and process in which we understand how systems of oppression such as colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism and ableism can result in individual discriminatory actions and structural/systemic inequalities for certain groups in society. Anti-oppressive practices and goals seek to recognize and dismantle such discriminatory actions and power imbalances. Anti-oppressive practices and this framework should seek to guide the Federation’s work with an aim to identify strategies and solutions to deconstruct power and privilege in order to mitigate and address the systemic inequalities that often operate simultaneously and unconsciously at the individual, group and institutional or union level. (ETFO’s Equity Statement)

 

Here is another quote that I would like to highlight on ETFO’s Action on Anti-Black Racism, ETFO’s Anti-Black Racism Strategy is focused on creating systemic changes to confront anti-Black racism and provide a more welcoming and inclusive union environment for Black members at provincial and local levels. Given the legacy and current prevalence of anti-Black racism in colonial systems, institutions and society, ETFO Action on Anti-Black Racism –  Building an Inclusive School Workplace and Union brochure provides information on what anti-Black racism is, ETFO’s anti-Black racism strategy and how to be an ally. You can find out more about ETFO’s Action on Anti-Black Racism here

 

Also of importance to share is ETFO’s Human Rights Statement: The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario’s is committed to providing an environment for members that is free from harassment and discrimination at all provincial and local Federation sponsored activities. Harassment and discrimination on the basis of a prohibited ground are violations of the Ontario Human Rights Code and are illegal.

 

I included these quotes and the Human Rights statement because I am proud to be a part of a union that has in place policies and practices that value and protect the rights of all its members. However, it is up to us, as members and as educators, to ensure that ETFO indeed practices what it preaches, so that we too can feel protected in our commitment to ensuring student equity and developing student excellence. 

 

I say all that to say this, know thyself, know your worth and know your passion. Use all of who you are and what you believe to challenge, support and inspire students. You don’t have to be Black to advocate for Black students, you don’t have to be Indigenous to address Indigenous rights, just like how you don’t have to identify as a woman or a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community to support those who are impacted by gender inequities and homophobia. You really just have to show students, through your actions, how much you care about them and that they do matter, regardless of their circumstances and lived experiences. In fact, I encourage you to empower students to see/use their circumstances and lived experiences as a catalyst for self-empowerment and universal change. Show them that what matters to them also matters to you.  

 

To support you in supporting students and showing them that they do matter, here are some literacy resources from ETFO’s Social Justice Begins With Me Book List that might be of great help to you.