homeschool, self-harm, run away, bullying, sexual harassment, racism, sexual touching, trauma, administration, victim-blaming, feeling, flirting, listen, boys will be boys, language, lawyer, human rights, policies, advocacy, activism, equity, equity tool
Tobie: Well, I remember when I first started homeschooling. Like when was it, January?
Tobie: Um, yeah, the school sent a tutor over to my grandparents’ house and I was like "Why can't I just be homeschooled?" And so they kept sending like work for me and stuff and it was just so annoying because--
Andréa: The deciding of it, like, to do that, we mulled it over for a while but it was just at the point where Tobie said that if we sent him to school...
Tobie: I'd run away.
Andréa: He'd run away from school and was um threatening um to harm himself.
Andréa: So, it was just kind of like, I can't, I can't send him, I can't send him. Yeah.
Tobie: So like yeah, the kids said some really mean things to me.
Andréa: Yeah. So, we just um--
Tobie: One of them even sexually harassed me.
Tobie: I will never get over that. So, we just want even to treat us.
Tara: I'm so sorry to hear that.
Andréa: And it was just the school was not responding even to my emails and stuff and...
Tobie: Can I?
Tobie: Um, also, I just I know I tell everyone this like I bring up the subject of being sexually harassed but the principal said I should be complemented by the things that the boy said to me. Yeah. And because she said "You should be complimented. He's such a sweet boy" and I was like...
Tara: Wow [unclear]. Blaming the victim going on whether it's you know homophobic or transphobic bullying or sexual harassment. I remember, um, reading once you know we were trying to help our teachers understand the difference between sexual harassment and flirting and sexual harassment is when it doesn't feel good in your stomach, that it's raw. It's a feeling. Right. Flirting is fun, right?
Tobie: Yeah. It's like "Hey you! Looking good."
Tobie: And, stuff like that.
Tara: And so it goes exactly back to what you were saying, like adults and teachers and principals need to listen to students. If you're saying it doesn't feel good, then you shouldn't feel complimented. Right?
Tara: And it just reminds me how much work we have to do with our teachers because I think they say that because they don't know what else to do.
Andréa: I think it was. Yes.
Tara: I'm sorry.
Andréa: It's okay. Particularly at that school there was a lot of, a lot, a lot of victim blaming but a lot of like "boys will be boys".
Tobie: Oh my gosh and the principal has said that so many times that I swear I was like "Oh I'm going to start yelling at her next time I see her."
Andréa: So we really pushing, the reason like with the homeschooling we were pushing and pushing for a year and a half to like because it was the same, the same kids who were doing the same. Not just to Tobie, but like, sexually harassing girls.
Tobie: They sexually, like they touched one of my friends.
Andréa: Yeah and being racist towards other children just like a host of problems. There's other parents too who are coming but nothing was being done. And so yeah, it got to the point where I had consulted with lawyers with the Ontario Human Rights.
They did put me in touch with the equity-lead for the school board who's been really helpful and informed me that she has written up and they've written policies on accommodating trans youth. They just--the board is voting on them now. They're just behind they didn't have any policies before at all.
Tara: So, you are operating in a vacuum. Yeah. Your advocacy work pushed that, um, forward and you are a pioneer in a way. Right?
Andréa: Yeah, you are. They're actually, they're testing out a new process for helping going forward in school. In terms of asking them what they need.
Andréa: And Tobie's going to be, we're meeting in May at the school with the equity-lead and school board officials and the principal in the new school and stuff and they're going to be using this tool that they've created with Toby for the first time to give us feedback and see how it works.