New campaign uses QR code to provide resources to LGBTQ+ youth
Published Tuesday, March 26, 2019 4:15PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, March 26, 2019 8:17PM EDT
A new program launched at a Toronto high school on Tuesday aims to help combat bullying and offer resources to LGBTQ+ youth amid changes being made to the Ontario sexual education curriculum.
“The Get REAL Movement” is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2011at Western University with the goal of combatting discrimination and bullying in schools. They offer workshops and programming on a national level, focusing on providing positive LGBTQ+ role models and addressing stereotypes and prejudice.
Students at Toronto Ouest Secondary School participated in one of those workshops Tuesday morning. During the event, the organization launched a new campaign in response to the Ontario government’s decision to repeal the 2015 sex-ed curriculum. According to a news release issued Tuesday, the campaign, which is called “LGBTQr Code,” was launched “in support of LGBTQ+ community members’ right to feel safe and secure in school.”
"It’s a really fun and cool innovative education campaign that uses QR code technology and really fun shirts to access a microsite filled with education around LGBTQ+ identities,” said Chris Studer, executive director and founder of Get REAL, said at the school.
The organization handed out t-shirts, pins and stickers featuring a QR code that, once scanned, leads students to an educational website with the following message: “The Ontario government has tried to remove LGBTQ+ education from schools. So students will teach it themselves.”
The website addresses questions surrounding gender identity, sexuality, bullying, and discrimination. It also includes a list of resources for students.
Students at Toronto Ouest Secondary School appeared to be receptive to the campaign.
"With just a quick scan people are exposed to a wonderful organization and website that can offer support and help and resources and information that is a little more low key and not necessarily out there,” said Grade 11 student Safa Hachi.
"I love this campaign. I think it’s a great resource, hugely accessible. It’s incredible,” said Grade 11 student Julia Ballot.
The Ontario government repealed the 2015 curriculum put in place by the previous Liberal government in July of last year.
Under the new curriculum, gender identity and gender expression will be taught in the latter half of Grade 8, as well sexting, contraception and sexually transmitted infections.
The ministry of education will also provide online modules for parents to teach their children sexual health topics “whenever their child is ready,” allowing parents to opt-out of the sex-ed curriculum.
“We heard from parents and they told us that some concepts were being taught way too early,” Education Minister Lisa Thompson said during a news conference earlier this month. “So, we’re going to raise the age on some concepts, but I assure you here today that we are going to keep them all in the curriculum and we’re going to respect mom and dad by providing an opt out so parents can be the ultimate decision makers on their kids health education.”
With files from CTV News Toronto's Janice Golding