Montreal-area school board releases report into discrimination after video of teenagers in blackface
MONTREAL -- A 143-page report into policies at a school board in the Montreal area has found that many students feel discriminated against based on their religion, sexual orientation and race.
The Lester B. Pearson School Board commissioned the report after two girls at John Rennie High School in Pointe-Claire were caught on video in blackface using vulgar, racist language last year.
The board said the video made them realize the need to improve the learning and social; experiences of its diverse student population.
Among the key strategies are teaching tolerance of different religions, teaching more about holidays celebrated by religious groups that aren't just Judeo-Christian, and having speakers that come from different cultural communities.
"I think it's important, not just in schools, but in all corporations, in all organizations," said task force chair Dr. Myrna Lashley. "We have to do some self-examination, we've got to stop gazing at our navels and assuming that everything is fine the way it is. We know it's not."
The report also highlights that there are inconsistencies in the gender language in LBPSB bylaws.
"It is not only important for youth to feel included, respected and cared for by being referred to by their chosen name and correct pronouns, it is important for youth to see gender-inclusive language used within their environments," the report reads.
The report recommends, as a result, updating documents and advising teachers that the should use gender-neutral language in classrooms.
Later, the report recommends gender-neutral washrooms and updating pictograms on the facilities.
"We have a collective obligation to continue educating our students about the dangers of letting injustice as well as racist and discriminatory attitudes of any kind to prevail and go unchecked," said LBPSB chair Noel Burke.
The board said it wants all its schools to study the report and put in place an action plan by late fall.
The mother of the boy who was the target of the racist video filed a human rights complaint against the people who made the video and aksed that blackface be declaired a hateful symbol.