CUPE Ontario members, including more than 55,000 education workers represented by the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), stand in solidarity with students who are exercising their Charter Rights as part of the We the Students Do Not Consent walk-outs.

Students are taking multiple actions over two days — including coordinated student walk-outs across Ontario today starting at 1 pm — to show they do not consent to the Ford government’s changes to the provincial education curriculum. These changes include the cancelling of workshops to update the curriculum as per the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the reversion to the 1998 Health and Physical Education curriculum which, unlike the previous 2015 version, does not address critical issues like gender identity, sexting, consent and LGBTQ relationships.

In the online “Ontario Walkout 2018 – Student Guide”, students describe their reasons for protesting.

We the students need to show our government that we do not consent to this action. The impacts of these changes have been repeated by hundreds of experts: they will not keep our students, our women, our LGBTQ+ community, or our Indigenous population safe. It’s time for us all to stand up and fight for our right to education.”

CUPE Ontario and the OSBCU agree wholeheartedly. We stand in solidarity with students protesting these curriculum changes not only as education workers and union allies, but also as parents and active community members.

As we stated in our open letter to Ontario’s School Communities when the government first announced these changes, as education workers students’ health and safety is not only our job, but our duty and we know all these changes are wrong. We know Sex Ed Saves Lives. We know, as people living in the province of Ontario that making real the promise of Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous people is an obligation we must meet.

So, we think if a bill of rights is needed in Ontario’s school system, maybe it should be a Bill of Students’ Rights.  We humbly suggest the best place to find students to consult with on a Bill of Students’ Rights will be on the lawns and streets outside Ontario’s high schools today, starting at about 1 pm.

They’ll be wearing purple. And in solidarity, so will we.