‘Hate’ campaign seemingly targets youngest and most impressionable in our community

Ian MacLean says his wife was taking a pleasant morning walk with their dog, Charley, when she was confronted with troubling messages in front of Trafalgar Public School on Wednesday morning; the first day of school.

“She came across some trans hate messages both scrawled on the sidewalk and stickers that had been pre-made and placed around the school property,” said MacLean. She removed some of the stickers and the pair took steps to notify the school.

Reports indicated a number of schools were targeted with similar messages, including Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts, Wortley Road Public School, and Byron Northview Public School.

“We’re really disappointed with some of the messaging that we’ve seen at the schools,” said Purveen Skinner. Skinner is Superintendent of Equity for the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB). Board officials say, to the best of their knowledge, all of the hateful messages were removed before students arrived for school.

Some residents believe the messaging was part of a coordinated effort to coincide with the first day of classes, but board representatives say they have no evidence of that.

Skinner says the board is committed to equity and inclusion, with posters promoting those values distributed for display at all schools.

A message reading “Only 2 genders” was left on the sidewalk leading to Trafalgar Public School was discovered before school on the morning of September 7, 2023. (Source: Ian MacLean)

Skinner stressed, “All of us have a responsibility to ensure that our students and our staff, as well as our families, feel safe and accepted in all of our buildings.”

TVDSB schools weren’t the only locations targeted with the stickers and the graffiti.

On Tuesday, Bill Smolders was dropping off his pre-schoolers to daycare at St. Theresa Catholic School in Byron and found the same materials.

“I just really don’t think there’s a place for anything like that around a school,” said Smolders. He feels those responsible should take their lead from the kids they were targeting.

“People are people, and kids are so beautiful that way. They don’t see things that adults tend to start picking on at a certain age. They just say, ‘Hey, there’s my friend and I love them.’ That’s the way everybody should be and that’s how as adults, I guess, we should model ourselves,” said Smolders.

Superintendent of Equity Purveen Skinner reviewed some of the posters promoting equity and inclusion on September 7, 2023. They were distributed to all Thames Valley District Board schools. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

MacLean admits feeling conflicted about coming forward with his concerns, “I was very 50/50 on this. Part of me was like, ‘I don’t necessarily want give this any play.’ I don’t want them to see this on the news and get some satisfaction out of it. At the same time you have to speak up against it.”

Skinner says mental health supports are being offered to any students or staff impacted by the messages posted outside the schools.

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