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Learning in Action

Learning in Action

With the number of disturbing and offensive acts of hate which remind us all of its continued presence within our society and within our schools, we wanted to highlight ways that students and staff have been engaging in teaching and learning to keep each other feeling safe and respected. Many schools continue to highlight various identities and lived experiences and/or teach about the impact of hate and racism. We look forward to highlighting the ongoing work happening in schools and centrally.

RH McGregor Elementary School Antisemitism & Holocaust Presentation

William GliedRH McGregor ES Grade 5 students learned about Anti-Semitism with the support of TDSB-approved speaker, Michelle Glied-Goldstein and her organization, Carrying Holocaust Testimony. She shared the stories of her father, William Glied, who was among the first Jewish orphans admitted to Canada after his family was killed by the Nazis. William recounted his experiences as a child growing up in Serbia before the second world war. Through video and a live interview with Michelle he told students that he was kicked off the soccer team and then was eventually asked to leave his school because he was Jewish. He described the work camps, and how he managed to survive. William and Michelle encouraged students to stand up when they see wrong, to always do small acts of kindness and explained that we are so lucky to live in a great country like Canada. It is up to each of us to ensure it continues to be a free, democratic country and a society with strong moral values.

“You can’t be racist . It’s really unfair. You should think about how it would be if you were treated like you weren’t even human.”

“We should learn more about each other and our backgrounds. Be so happy that we live in a free, democratic society. Speak up when something is wrong or there is racism. Protect and maintain each other’s values in this country.”

-Luke and Nathaniel, Grade 5

TDSB Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs)

Throughout the last two years of the pandemic, various GSAs across the TDSB provided support to 2SLGBTQ+ students and their allies. These GSAs:

  • Centred 2SLGBTQ+ Black, Indigenous, Latinx, racialized students, students with disabilities and students who may not be “out,” who may not use the labels 2SLGBTQ+, but who may be same gender loving, or exploring diverse sexual and gender identities and expressions;
  • Anticipated and responded to unique challenges with love, resilience, and creativity;
  • Showed up and created affirming, loving, and accessible spaces and moments during a global pandemic that was especially hard on marginalized queer and trans communities;
  • Engaged in collective care, while building meaningful connections and relationships across communities;
  • Demanded accountability and liberation through intersectional activism, education, collective freedom dreaming, and future world building.

8 Gender and Sexuality Alliances have been awarded $1000 each to support their continued work to affirm students’ multiple identities and combat ongoing homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, misogynoir, and heterosexism:

Birchmount Park CI

Bowmore Rd. Jr & Sr PS

C.W. Jeffreys CI

Central Toronto Academy

Danforth CTI

Etobicoke School of the Arts

Forest Hill Jr & Sr PS

TDSB GSA Network

Brookview Middle School Black Students Success and Excellence (BSSE) Initiative

Brookview Middle School has been focusing on counteracting deficit narratives around Black students' success and excellence, reimagining how to structure programming and instruction in learning spaces, with students at the center of the curriculum. In collaboration with two Grade 8 Teachers (Joe Eiyah, Carolyn Williams), K to 12 Learning Coach (Shayle Graham) and the Brookview Equity Leadership Team, Grade 8 students are combating hate with an intentional focus on promoting the joy and genius of Black people and their communities. Student facilitators have taken on a leadership role as co-planners and co-teachers to provide culturally relevant and responsive programming for the students at Brookview, in ways that positively affirm their identities, set conditions for allyship and encourage student authorship and ownership of their stories.

Brookview School-wide BSSE Inquiry: What happens when we equip teachers with rich resources and equip Black students with an in-depth understanding of intersectionality of identities, cultural legacies and historical influences that positively affirm who they are, in ways that promote Black Joy as a device to challenge anti-Black racist ideologies (Individually, Interpersonally, and Institutionally).

Brookview Grade 8 Team Inquiry: What happens to the participation, engagement and achievement of the Black students in Grade 8 at Brookview when we program in ways that centre their interests and promote student voice?

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TDSB students learn about allyship and advocacy at EnVision Conference 2022

More than 1,000 students and educators from across the TDSB participated in the annual EnVision Conference in March which focused on honouring and celebrating 2SLGBTQIAP+ communities as well as issues faced across Ontario in relation to addressing homophobia and transphobia. 

EnVision 2022 was a collaboration between the Equity, Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression team, the Urban Indigenous Education Centre, the Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement, the TDSB GSA Network, the Gender-Based Violence Prevention Program Team and the Human Rights Office.

Over the course of two days, students were encouraged to ask questions and explore ways to celebrate gender and sexual diversity in schools and beyond.

The conference launches kicked off with the land acknowledgement, led by System Superintendent Tanya Senk followed by libations, an African-Caribbean ritual that offers a drink, in this case water, to ancestral spirits hosted by Jamea Zuberi, Vice-Principal of Market Lane and Downtown Alternative School.

This was followed by a moving speech by Dr. Andrew B. Campbell, Academic Coordinator and faculty member in the Master of Teaching (MT) Program at OISE, at the University of Toronto; which focused on Identity, Care and Activism.

“We can’t get away from who we are,” said Dr. Campbell before sharing that he was bullied by the boys in his school for self-identifying as gay and he highlighted the important role educators and allies play when supporting those in the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community.

Students also heard from 19-year-old trans rights activist Tru Wilson, who delved into her experience of transitioning with the support of her family. She talked about having a “summer of Trey” (her given name) where her parents let her dress however she wanted so she could be herself. She described it as freeing. “You’re perfect just the way you are. Believe that and never forget that,” she told students.

On the second day of the conference, students in Grades 6 to 8 had the added bonus of a live performance by the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance (TKBA), an arts-based grassroots organization that provides LGBT+POC youth with opportunities and activities to build positive relationships and self-esteem.

The performance was a positive, high energy addition to the day, with performers from across Canada, showcasing the foundational moves for ballroom. 

“The EnVision Conference is an invaluable event for affirming and co-creating conditions to support 2SLGBTQIAP+ students in equitable and anti-oppressive ways. This conference has always been about centring student voice to be able to transform classrooms and schools into sites of affirmation.” said conference co-lead and Centrally Assigned Principal Salima Kassam. “EnVision 2022 has been a valuable forum  to share experiences, strategies and ideas to be able to support the TDSB to collectively carry this learning forward in classrooms across the TDSB.”

One student who attended the conference reinforced this by stating what they learned at the conference was that they are “not alone. I never really was one for participating in anything 2SLGBTQIA+ because I hadn’t really accepted myself and as I still work towards that I want to help other people too. I am also very eager to educate myself in this way rather than tweets or reddit and such. The keynotes alone did exactly as I thought and answered questions I didn’t even have yet.”