Toronto-area students protest alleged ban on hugs
TORONTO – Students at Earnscliffe Senior Public School in Brampton, Ont. are protesting an alleged ban that was originally meant to cut down on public displays of affection and bullying.
The school policy, referred to as “No Loving, No Shoving,” is meant to cut down on bullying and public displays of affection around the school – but some students think the policy also applies to hugging.
“So my friends and I want to change this rule,” Diana Hoyt, a student at Earnscliffe Senior Public School said in an e-mail to Global News. “We want to stand up for our rights and be able to hug our friends, to cheer them up, celebrate their accomplishments, or just to show them we care.”
School board officials tell Global News that hugging is certainly not banned, but rather the ‘no-touching’ rule is incredibly common throughout the school board, and the province.
Despite the pervasiveness of no-touching rules, students at Earnscliffe Senior Public School are planning a “hug-in” on June 20 to protest the rule.
Hana El-Daly, a student at Earnscliffe Senior Public School, who was helping organize the “hug-in,” said that the Principal has expressed concerns about safety, and school’s climate – though has agreed to let the protest go on.
El-Daly said that a teacher later the same day witnessed her hugging a friend, and told them that hugging was not allowed – though didn’t punish them.
School board officials say one hug would not lead to further punishment.
“When friends are leaving on Friday… and hugging each other to say goodbye, certainly staff in a building are not policing those interactions,” Pereira said. “When a hug might be connected to something else, something inappropriate, then the staff at a school would act upon those.”
The rules generally prohibit touching that’s “not welcome” – typically violent, or sexual touching that is either unwanted or not appropriate for school.
Hugging is generally not prohibited say school board officials.
“No school in Peel has a hugging ban,” Carla Pereira, Acting Manager of Communications, for Peel District School Board said. “But every middle-school for sure has clear expectations around the appropriate physical contact.”
It is up to each school to institute specific ‘no-touching’ rules, but school board officials insist that the rules are meant to protect everyone.
“It’s one of the many rules that schools have to ensure safety on a daily basis,” Pereira said. “It’s to ensure that all students feel safe and there is a positive environment for learning in the building.”
Officials from Earnscliffe Senior Public School have not returned calls.