Canada’s School Board introduces an initiative to address Islamophobia.
The Local Schools Authority of Toronto, Canada’s largest city, has unanimously adopted a program against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
“We’ve heard directly from our communities and have the data to show that Islamophobia continues to affect our students and staff on a regular basis,” said Rachel Chernous Lane, president of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), in a statement about the vote.
“By taking a focused approach to countering Islamophobia, we are enabling more members of our school communities to feel safe and welcome at school and at work.”
The board serves approximately 235,000 students in grades 7-12, and nearly one in five identifies as Muslim.
The next step is for the Council to develop and implement the programme. A timeline for its implementation has not been released, but the board will consult with the groups for ideas to include in the strategy.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) – Canada’s largest Muslim advocacy organization – welcomed the news.
“Incidents of Islamophobia have been on the rise across the country in recent years,” the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood said in a press release. “This includes in our classrooms in Toronto and beyond. It is time for our leaders to implement a real anti-Islamophobia strategy to help protect our children. Muslim students need not worry about their safety and survival in our classrooms and schools.”
The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood said, “Studies and reports on the lived experiences of Muslim students in Canadian school systems tell us that Islamophobia exists in many ways.” “It’s a real step in the right direction in TDSB’s commitment to equality and inclusion.”
The Toronto board is the second to adopt a strategy to combat Islamophobia. In January, the Peel County School Board, located just northwest of Toronto, became the first school board in Canada to vote on the development and implementation of an anti-Islamophobia strategy.
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