‘It’s about school safety’: Students at two high schools stage walkout over sexual violence
Comments and emphasis added by Home Education Funding Alberta
Written by Brittany Gervais- Calgary Herald
Published November 16, 2021
'I think a lot of students are owed an apology from our administration, because we have been let down countless times'
Around 100 students at Western Canada High School in southwest Calgary walked out of class Tuesday morning to demand action from school administration around reports of sexual violence. PHOTO BY BRITTANY GERVAIS/POSTMEDIA
Students at two Calgary public high schools walked out of class Tuesday morning to demand school administration ensure students are kept safe from sexual violence.
At 9:30 a.m., approximately 100 students walked out of Western Canada High School on 17th Avenue chanting “change now” and carrying signs reading “silence encourages rapists” and “protect us not your reputation.” Students at Central Memorial High School also organized a walkout Tuesday morning.
According to a letter written by Western student organizers, victims of sexual violence have been forced to be in the same classroom as their abuser despite assurances from administration that would not happen. They also said resources are not openly accessible to students and consent is not featured prominently in school curriculums.
Grade 11 student Eliza Kalinowski, who helped organize the demonstration at Western, said the walkout was organized after students felt reports of sexual violence by other students were being ignored or dismissed by school administration.
“Everyone in the school, I think, has been affected by sexual assault and sexual unwellness,” Kalinowski said. “People need to feel like they belong, and that they’re safe at school.”
When Kalinowski spoke to administration about reports of sexual violence, she said she felt ignored and dismissed.
“I personally can speak to the fact that whenever I’ve talked to our administrative team, I left feeling very alone and very isolated, and that no adult really had my back,” she said. “I think a lot of students are owed an apology from our administration, because we have been let down countless times.”
Rape culture is a prevalent issue at Western, said Grade 12 student Hayley Bryant. She said students felt they had to organize a walkout to raise awareness about administrative inaction.
“I think it’s very unfortunate that it’s had to come to a walkout, but we’re here because it’s about school safety,” Bryant said. “There needs to be resources in place. And this is not just Western, it’s Calgary-wide, it’s Alberta-wide.”
Calgary police investigated at least one report of sexual assault at Central Memorial High School within the past six months.
In June, a girl reported to the school resource officer at Central that she had been sexually assaulted by two males, according to police. The officer filed a report and notified the child-abuse unit, though no criminal charges were laid as a result of the investigation.
“When evidence in an abuse investigation is determined to not meet the threshold for a criminal charge, this in no way negates the statement the victim shared with us or how the incident made them feel, and we recognize that this outcome can be disappointing for those involved. We commend all victims who come forward to report abuse,” Staff Sgt. Graeme Smiley with the Calgary police child-abuse unit said in a statement to Postmedia.
According to a study last year led by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS), an estimated 325,000 children — or 34 per cent of the province’s population under 18 — have experienced childhood sexual abuse.
(I wonder how much of this sexual assault was done in schools as children spend the majority of their life at school.)
School board aware of allegations
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) declined an interview with Postmedia on Tuesday.
CBE did not answer questions around administration’s response to the allegations, the resources and supports currently available to victims of sexual violence, or what changes are being considered.
Instead, CBE communications adviser Megan Geyer provided an emailed statement to Postmedia, saying the school board is aware of the allegations but can’t speak to specific details...
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Isn't school a safe place where you can send your child(ren) to learn and be educated? Well, not according to these students in Calgary. It is so sad to see these students having to suffer such abuse at the hands of the public education system. The teachers were very neglectful and irresponsible in corresponding with their students who suffered such sexual abuse. Let this be a reminder to all the Parents reading this, home educate your child(ren) today. Keep them safe in your care and out of the negligent care of complete strangers, I mean "teachers".