Ian MacLean narrates a recent disquieting incident, one that intruded upon his wife’s peaceful morning stroll with their dog, Charley. This occurred outside the premises of Trafalgar Public School, coinciding with the first day of school on Wednesday. According to MacLean, his wife stumbled upon disturbing transphobic messages scrawled on the sidewalk and on stickers scattered around the school property. They wasted no time in removing some of the stickers and informing the school about the incident.
Such distasteful incidents were not isolated, with reports highlighting that the Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts, Wortley Road Public School, and Byron Northview Public School had also been targeted.
Purveen Skinner, Superintendent of Equity for the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), voiced her disappointment, informing that all malicious messages, to the best of their knowledge, had been hastily removed before the arrival of students. Some locals hypothesized that these acts were part of a coordinated initiative to coincide with the re-opening of schools. However, school board representatives countered this idea due to a lack of concrete evidence.
Skinner reiterated the board’s unwavering commitment towards fairness and inclusivity, highlighted by the distribution of posters advocating these values in all TVDSB schools. One of the messages discovered before school on September 7, 2023, candidly denied the existence of more than two genders.
At TVDSB, Skinner emphasized that it was collectively incumbent upon everyone to create an environment where students, staff, and families felt secure and accepted.
However, it wasn’t only TVDSB schools that faced this wave of prejudiced messages. Bill Smolders, while dropping off his preschool children at St. Theresa Catholic School in Byron, came across similar elements of hate. Expressing his contempt, Smolders said that there was no place for such divisive attitudes, especially in educational institutions. According to Smolders, the individuals behind these actions could learn a lesson or two about acceptance and compassion from their very targets, the children.
On a more personal note, MacLean confessed his dilemma about making his concerns public. He recognized the need to protest against these incidents, despite his reservation about inadvertently giving the culprits any satisfaction by highlighting their actions. Meanwhile, Skinner stated that the TVDSB was offering mental health support to anyone impacted by these upsetting messages.