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The Honourable Liz Sandals, Minister of Education: Statement to the Legislative Assembly

Statement

The Honourable Liz Sandals, Minister of Education: Statement to the Legislative Assembly

Pink Shirt Day

Ministry of Education

Queen's Park, Toronto
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Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to stand in the House today on behalf of Ontario's two million students to acknowledge Pink Shirt Day.

We know that a safe, inclusive and accepting school environment is essential for students to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

And it is the responsibility of everyone in our schools and local communities to promote respectful and caring relationships that support the cognitive, emotional, social and physical development of our children and students.

That is why today, thousands of students and educators across Ontario and across Canada will be recognizing Pink Shirt Day.

Pink Shirt Day was inspired in 2007 by two high school students from Nova Scotia - David Sheppard and Travis Price.

When they discovered that a classmate was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school, they decided to take action. They went to a nearby store and bought pink shirts to give out to students. And they reached out to their fellow students to get them on board.

The next day, many students were wearing the purchased shirts and hundreds wore their own pink clothing.

When the teen, who was being bullied, arrived at school he was overwhelmed by the show of support.

Now, Pink Shirt Day has become an annual event to speak out against bullying in schools, communities and workplaces.

Mr. Speaker, our government has led the way by developing strong legislation, such as the Accepting Schools Act, and resources for school boards to address bullying and victimization through prevention, intervention and supports.

The Accepting Schools Act, which passed in 2012, was the first legislation of its kind in Canada.

This important legislation is helping to make every school in Ontario a safe, inclusive and accepting place to learn -- while at the same time, ensuring every student has the support to reach their full potential.

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, our government took further steps towards ending bullying by releasing the revised up-to-date Health and Physical Education curriculum.

We needed to update our curriculum so that students understand the importance of things like:

  •         Healthy relationships
  •         Having the confidence to say "no"
  •         Safe use of technology and the internet to help eliminate cyberbullying
  •         Developing inclusive communities, and
  •         Mental health

Mr. Speaker, as Ontarians, we must all work together.

Many schools and school communities are already demonstrating leadership in fostering and maintaining positive school climates through whole-school approaches that engage all members of the school community.

I want to thank our educators, students and school communities for their leadership and commitment in creating safe, inclusive and accepting school environments that are essential for student achievement and well-being.

This is also fundamental for our renewed vision for education.

Our vision will help prepare our students achieve excellence for a productive and successful future.

But students can't properly focus on their future if they are afraid to go to school.

We know that bullying and intimidation has an immediate impact on student well-being and their ability to succeed in school.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, Pink Shirt Day is so important.

It is an opportunity to remind us all that everyone has a part to play in creating a positive school climate and in fostering healthy and respectful relationships...

And those efforts must not be limited to a single day, but instead woven into day-to-day practices and embedded in the culture of the school.

I encourage every member in the House today to recognize Pink Shirt Day today and continue to promote the well-being of our students so that everyone feels respected, accepted and valued.

Today, let's use this opportunity to come together to make a difference in the lives of Ontario's children, students and families.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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