May 4-11, keeping their
The Toronto District School Board saw 34,762 absences on the first day of the campaign, May 4, more than double the 14,191 absences the board experienced the week before. The precise number of students who were out because of the parents strike was not known. Some parents sent notices to their schools alerting administrators as to the reason their children would be absent.
Some schools with primarily Muslim populations, such as Toronto's Thorncliffe Park Public School, had almost 90% of the school away.
On the second day of the strike TDSB absences were up 143% over the prior week.
In the Peel public board about 10% of all elementary students were not at school, an increase of 14.5% over the week before. Numbers were even higher in the Windsor public board, where elementary
student absences were 16 % higher than the week before (3,767 of 23,979 students).
In the Windsor Catholic board a smaller number of students--270--were absent. A Catholic parent in the St. Clair Catholic board explained her reasons for keeping her children at home:
Andrea Figueiredo, says the government has overstepped its bounds by forcing views into schools that parents disagree with. Says Figueiredo,
"I don't agree with what the government is essentially forcing our children to learn."
"It's up to us as parents to decide when that should be introduced, and when we should be teaching our children about those things."
Windsor parent Salah Alnassiri, also said he thinks the government is taking on a role that should be left to parents:
"I think it should be up to parents until age 14," Alnassiri said. "After 14, then they could do more at school."His ten-year-old son Ali Anazi said some of the content of the new curriculum made him feel uncomfortable.
"I think the new curriculum is being introduced when we're way too young," said Anazi. "We're still young kids. I want to be healthy. I just don't want to learn some of this at this age."
Around 1% of Ottawa elementary students were absent. Mindy Henry spoke to the CBC about why she was protesting the curriculum. Henry said she was going to home-school her eight-year-old son and 10-year old daughter for the week to demonstrate her opposition to teaching elementary students about anal and oral sex and same-sex marriage. In the live interview with Henry, she stated that if the curriculum is not withdrawn she is willing to homeschool her children next fall. You can watch the fullinterview here.
Brampton, Windsor, and Toronto also had protests at local elementary schools, with a small demonstration at Queen's Park on Monday.
Media coverage in many outlets like the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star appeared to cast the "anti" side as especially prevalent in immigrant communities, especially among Muslims. Heather Mallick offered an extraordinarily racist piece in the Star.
In addition to Heather Mallick's usual suspects--"the religious right"--a new spectre appears: new Canadians, whose ignorance appears to be more curable.
"In Toronto's sad enclaves-where some schools hold Muslim prayers led by teenage boys while the girls are herded to the back-it was massive but that is another larger problem. New Canadians need welcoming."
Her animosity toward conservative parents is chilling:
The Ontario parents who took their young children out of school Monday in a protest over a new sex education curriculum are performing an important social function: providing a home from which one eventually flees with delight and a raw need for independence.
Parents are awful. This is their role in life, to embarrass their offspring. The approximately 1,000 parents who dragged their small children to a demonstration at Queen's Park and forced them to hold up signs demanding shelter from knowledge of their own nudity will be Exhibit A in the memoirs of 2045: Coastal Shelf: How My Mother F---ed Me Up; I'm Not With Them: Parental Alienation Syndrome Works Both Ways. They write themselves.
In fact, at PAFE we know from conducting many meetings in over 16 different communities across Ontario this winter hearing parental feedback on the sex-ed curriculum, opposition is coming from among a wide range of groups, such as Sikhs, Chinese, Hindus and Muslims, Russians, Copts, Greeks etc. as well as mainline Protestants and Catholics. Not all are either small or large "C" conservatives and not all are religious. What unites all these different groups is the belief that it's not healthy for children to be given a curriculum that teaches masturbation to 11-year olds and imagines 12-year olds to be ready to have sex. Childhood innocence has something precious about it. Don't snatch it from them.
Be a Part of the Sex-Ed Solution
Please help PAFE continue to link activists across the province and coordinate them to bring political action on this issue. You can donate today in one of three ways:
1) by cheque, made out to PAFE, sent to 2336 Bloor St. W., PO Box 84556, Toronto, ON M6S 4Z7
2) by email transfer3) Paypal
Together, we can make a difference!
Teresa Pierre, PhD, President
Parents as First Educators (PAFE)