By Bella Crysler –
On Friday, September 21, at 1 p.m., hundreds of students around Ottawa stood up and walked out of class. Teens grades 9 – 12 from six different Ottawa high schools took part in a school walkout to protest Premier Doug Ford’s recent changes to the Sex Ed curriculum which will see topics such as same-sex marriage, gender identity, and cyberbullying officially removed from classroom discussion. Doug Ford plans to move from 2015’s updated curriculum to the one used in 1998, one that students believe will not adequately prepare young people for navigating safely through adolescence in today’s society.
At Nepean High School, over 200 students gathered outside the main entrance of the school, many carrying hand made posters with slogans such as “Sex-Ed saves lives,” “Education = Empowerment,” and the main message: “We the students do not consent.”
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Contrary to a common criticism of teenagers being uninvolved and disconnected from greater society, this protest was student-organized, student-lead, and student-powered from top to bottom and was designed to benefit the students of tomorrow. Passionate guest speakers such as MPP Joel Harden rallied the crowds but the loudest cheers heard were for NHS’s very own student speakers who delivered heartfelt speeches in front of their peers and community regarding the importance of topics such as consent and LGBTQ rights being included in their education.
Whether or not these student voices will be heard and seriously taken into account by the likes of Doug Ford and fellow legislators is not yet known, but they were certainly heard by Westboro that afternoon.
Bella Crysler is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.