Students across Ontario have been mobilizing over social media for the past couple of weeks in protest of the province’s revised sexual education curriculum.
Thousands are expected to drop the books and pound the pavement Friday afternoon.
Thea Baines is a Grade 12 student in the Toronto District School Board. She helped organize the walkout at her school in the city’s west end.
“We care about this issue. We need good sex-ed. We need indigenous education,” she told Global News.
“We need a modern sex-ed for a modern generation of kids.”
While the Progressive Conservative government has been reiterating the importance of parental consultation, students said they also deserve the opportunity to make their sentiments known.
“Especially students with mental health, queer students and indigenous students — they all need to be heard at the table,” said fellow Grade 12 student Amina Vance.
Donna Baines said she has full knowledge of where her daughter plans to be at 1 p.m. on Friday.
“We’re really proud of these kids. They have independently organized this walkout because like many of us, they don’t consent to the changes that have been brought in,” she said.
Protests were held Thursday at Malvern Collegiate Institute and Notre Dame High School. While students admitted the changes won’t have an impact on them, they said they’re fighting for future generations.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson was pressed on the topic by the opposition at Queen’s Park.
“I am very, very much looking forward to the rolling out of this consultation — of this process across the province. It’s going to be comprehensive. It’s something that parents have never seen before,” she said.
For Donna Baines, she said that’s little consolation.
“The consultation is a farce,” she said in response to the minister’s remarks.
“There’s a foregone conclusion. We’ve already been told that we’re going back to the 1998 curriculum. So really, what are we consulting on?”
The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) launched a legal challenge against the Ford government’s rollback of the current sex-ed curriculum and the teacher complaint website the government created for parents.
ETFO president Sam Hammond said the union is “heartened” students are “exercising their democratic rights and standing up for a modern human development and sexual health curriculum.”
“In today’s world, they are navigating issues including homophobia, consent, cyberbullying, healthy relationships, gender identity, sexting and body image,” he said.
“They deserve a curriculum that addresses and explores these issues, is supported by solid research and teaching experience, and that’s proven to keep them safe.”
Students at upwards of 70 schools are expected to partake in the walkout.