Some of the thousands of students who were pulled from class by their parents May 4 join a protest outside Queen’s Park against the province’s new sex-ed curriculum. Photo courtesy of Omar Kasmieh

Student strike has minimal effect on Catholic schools

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  • May 5, 2015

TORONTO - As thousands of parents pulled their children from school for a week in protest of Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum, it seems the majority taking part are from the province’s public schools.

Officials at Catholic school boards report that students continued to fill their classrooms from May 4-8, while Toronto’s public school board saw a significant spike in its absentee rate, with 34,762 being marked absent on the first day of the week-long protest. The previous Monday the board saw 14,191 absences.

At Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park Public School, only 130 students of the school’s 1,350 student body showed up for class that day.

“We have no information that has been reported to us that there was widespread action on the part of parents in our board — just small pockets of protest in a handful of schools — to keep their child home from school,” said John Yan, a spokesperson for the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Other Catholic boards, including Durham, Waterloo and Huron-Perth, also reported no discernible rise in absences.

May 4 saw the launch of Parents & Students on Strike: One Week No School. The protest takes aim at the sex-ed curriculum that many parents believe introduces too much sexual information at too early an age for their children.

Organized by four parents from Peel Region, the protest seeks to send a message to the Kathleen Wynne government that parents concerned with the revised curriculum feel they are losing control of what their children learn.

“We want the ministry to know that this is not a small issue that parents have,” said organizer Omar Kasmieh. “They have not been recognized as a primary educator and they really want to express their concerns.”

The hope was for the Ministry of Education to halt the implementation of the curriculum in September, allowing for additional consultation and revisions.

The lack of participation on the part of Catholic parents didn’t surprise Kasmieh, a father of two, because his group has stronger ties with the public school boards.

“Since we are a simple group we don’t have the tools to inform (everyone),” he said. “But I think we did a really good job in terms of informing the public compared to the ministry.”

He continued by saying that the group expects more Catholic parents to join in the protests which are to take place in various locations across the province during the week.

Yan said parents should not pull students away from their education to send a message to the government. Rather they should use their own voice.

“Parents who have concerns with the new (health and physical education) curriculum should contact their local MPP.”

Comments (1)

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Yes I am most ashamed that the official Catholic response has been silence against this horrible proposed curriculum. Other Christians, other faith groups are doing the fighting, shame on all of of us. I guess we are too busy this week...

Yes I am most ashamed that the official Catholic response has been silence against this horrible proposed curriculum. Other Christians, other faith groups are doing the fighting, shame on all of of us. I guess we are too busy this week "celebrating" the joy of "Catholic" education in this province.

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