“Premier Ford’s recent comments – which accused school boards and teachers of “indoctrinating” students, by protecting students’ right to use gender pronouns of their choice – are shameful, disrespectful, and potentially harmful. In his clumsy attempt to deflect from his government’s involvement in the ongoing Greenbelt corruption scandal, the Premier demonstrated a breathtaking lack of awareness of the critical role teachers play in creating safe spaces for the students we serve.
Catholic teachers strive each and every day to create a safe and welcoming environment for all, and to imbue our classrooms and schools with respect and inclusivity. Gender pronoun use is deeply personal in nature and is central to a person’s identity. Dismissing, or failing to respect the rights of 2SLGBTQSIA+ students would have negative and significant consequences on students’ well-being and mental health – and would open 2SLGBTQIA+ students to potentially being made to feel vulnerable, or facing discrimination and harassment. This cannot be allowed to happen.
In an ideal scenario, students will feel safe having these important conversations with their families. However, in situations where this is not the case, it is critical that students have the necessary supports available to them. Catholic teachers will continue to use their professional judgement, following school board policies and procedures, to ensure that students’ rights are protected, while continuing to work with parents and guardians to support the best interests of all students.
Catholic teachers will continue to strongly condemn any attempt to spread hate and bigotry in any form – including any attempt to pursue reckless or harmful policy. We will continue to stand in solidarity with 2SLGBTQIA+ students and communities, and will continue to create safe learning environments for students.”
- René Jansen in de Wal, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association