Safe Schools

Support for Ontario's Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13)

Here is what people are saying about the government's comprehensive action plan to address bullying:

"Our members are committed to eliminating bullying inside and outside of our schools. The government's efforts will allow the school community to respond quickly and effectively to any acts of bullying."
Benoit Mercier, Président, Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens

"The Canadian Alliance of Black Educators applauds the Government of Ontario's Ministry of Education for its tenacity of purpose by providing guidelines and supports to boards of education, as part of its continuing progress in safe and inclusive schools, in order to enhance student success and parental engagement."
– Kirk Mark, President Canadian Alliance of Black Educators

"Whether it is based on gender, race, sexual orientation or disability, bullying can have a tremendously negative impact on a child's mental health. By addressing bullying in our schools we can prevent mental health issues in the long-term."
– Gordon Floyd, President and CEO, Children's Mental Health Ontario

"Reducing a youth's vulnerability through inclusive practices; especially in the area of gender identity and sexual orientation, is key to reducing bullying inside and outside the classroom. I am delighted that the government is taking strong action that will directly benefit and protect these students."
– Clare Freeman, Former Chair of the Domestic Violence Advisory Council

"We need to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students are provided with the support they need to succeed. By mandating in law that schools provide these students with a peer support group, GSA or other similar group, if requested, the province is taking a huge step forward and making a real difference for vulnerable students."
– Helen Kennedy, Egale Canada

“ETFO believes that it is important that students have the right to use the terminology 'gay-straight alliance' and to specifically focus on homophobia, transphobia and gender identity as these relate to their own development and their understanding of others. The federation also believes that once the legislation is passed, the ministry has the responsibility to directly communicate to school boards, school staff, students and parents about the new requirement for boards to support student organizations like gay-straight alliances.”
– Susan Swackhammer, First Vice-President of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

"Ontario's elementary teachers welcome the plan to directly address bullying of all kinds, especially bullying related to gender identity. The commitment to provide teachers with the necessary training and resources related to early intervention will have a positive impact at the school level."
– Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

"I am writing…to commend you and your leadership team on bringing forward Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, intended to provide safety for all youth in our schools and across the province."
– Laurie Dart, Chief Executive Officer at Griffin Centre, Mental Health Services

"Students need a peer support group to deal with bullying based on homophobia, transphobia and discrimination of all kinds. By working with boards to provide a Rainbow Alliance, GSA or other similar group, the province is ensuring students will get the support they need."
– Jeremy Dias, Jer's Vision

"As lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer students in schools in Ontario, we sometimes face challenges from our schools and community to run initiatives that make our places of learning safer. This new initiative will make it easier for us to learn in a safe and respectful environment."
– Youth Advisory Committee, Jer's Vision

"Research evidence in Canada, and around the world, shows that when young people feel their schools are safe, welcoming and inclusive, they are more likely to succeed academically. Ontario's faculties of education support all measures that promote the well-being and success of students."
– Serge Demers, Chair, Ontario Association of Deans of Education

"Ontario's Catholic school boards have a history of nurturing school environments that are caring and respectful places, where students are taught to embrace and respect the uniqueness and diversity of all people regardless of race, disabilities, gender or sexual orientation. We therefore welcome this legislation and its emphasis on strengthening bullying prevention and supports for all students affected by and concerned about bullying."
– Nancy Kirby, President, Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association

"OECTA has a long and proud history of striving to achieve equality and justice for all of our students. School cultures need to be sensitive, welcoming and responsive to every student. Our members will be pleased with the efforts of this government to ensure students get the support they need to succeed, promote understanding, and prevent bullying."

“Providing safe, inclusive environments and eliminating bullying wherever we can is paramount. If the students feel that a club should be called a GSA – that it makes a difference to them – then, we respect and accept that choice.

“The reality is, this isn’t about the adults – it is about the students and student relationships – and we need to empower the students who are a key part of this equation.”
– Kevin O'Dwyer, President, Ontario English Catholic Teacher's Association

“One item of good news from the (Egale) report is that there are some effective tools at our disposal to tackle this problem. Students from schools with GSAs are much more likely to agree that their school communities are supportive of LGBT people, are much more likely to be open with some or all of their peers about their sexual orientation or gender identity and are more likely to see their school climate as becoming less homophobic. Gay-straight alliances make a difference. The kids themselves are telling us that they work.”
– Mr. Douglas Elliott, lawyer (LL.B, LL.M) for the Ontario GSA Coalition

“Human rights law expects organizations to take proactive and reactive measures to prevent and address bullying. Requiring schools to support student-led Gay-Straight Alliances and other equity clubs is one very good prevention strategy. We also welcome other proposed measures to prevent bullying, including requirements for provincial, board and school-level anti-bullying policies and plans.”
– Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall, Ontario Human Rights Commission

"Ontario schools are respected around the world. We are on a positive path to inclusive, caring learning environments where the rich diversity of our students can thrive. We must maintain our focus on keeping our schools safe and free from bullying. This requires effective resources and the concerted efforts of the province, school boards, staff, parents and students – the entire community."

“Many of our schools have after-school voluntary clubs such as equity clubs or gay-straight alliances or other peer-support clubs known by names that the students have chosen. These voluntary clubs support students in activities that promote inclusion, caring and safe schools, and they represent a haven for many young people. There is credible research that shows that schools with gay-straight alliances or similar voluntary peer-support clubs are safer and they are more inclusive learning environments. The passage of Bill 13 would be another important step in that direction.”
– Catherine Fife, President of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association

"Ontario's education workers are on the front line of bullying. They know the impact it has on students and need the tools to act. This legislation gives educators the flexibility they need to stop bullying before it begins."
– Ken Coran, President, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation

"We are pleased that the government has recognized and is addressing the severity of all forms of bullying within our schools. By promoting a safe and inclusive school environment, we are taking an important step in ensuring student success. We are glad the education community is taking real action to make a difference in Ontario."
– Hirad Zafari, Public Vice-President, Ontario Student Trustees' Association-l'Association des élèves conseillers et conseillères de l'Ontario

"The Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF) is strongly committed to bullying prevention and to ensuring that every student in Ontario has a safe environment in which to learn and develop. We are pleased that the Ontario government is moving forward in promoting the safe schools agenda though the Accepting Schools Act."
– Francine LeBlanc-Lebel, President, Ontario Teachers' Federation

"I wish to commend the Premier on his comprehensive approach to the pervasive challenge of bullying. The new legislation is sweeping in its engagement of all players and provision of consequences. This legislation builds on the underlay of evidence based bullying prevention programs such as Roots of Empathy and gives direction and definition for administrators, teachers, social workers, guidance counsellors, parent and students. Not only will students be supported by informed and empowered adults they will be part of the solution".
– Mary Gordon, Founder and President, Roots of Empathy

“I’ve heard wonderful stories of students being accepted, being loved, feeling safe and just feeling happy. There was a common factor in all these stories: They all had a GSA or some equivalent to it.”
– Student presentation at Standing Committee on Social Policy

“The 2011 survey by the Ontario Catholic Student Trustees' Association, shows that 88% of all students currently attending Catholic schools in Ontario believe that a student who wishes to form a gay-straight alliance should be able to do so.”
– Student presentation at Standing Committee on Social Policy

“Undoubtedly, continuing to foster an environment of equality within our diverse membership and in our cities and communities will build a stronger, more equal and safer Ontario for all students.

“As Ontario's largest private-sector union, we are delighted to support an initiative that prioritizes the creation of a safer and more inclusive environment in our schools.”
– United Food and Commercial Workers Canada