As a result of growing concerns over the rise of hate crimes targeting Muslim communities in Canada, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) adopted a strategy to combat Islamophobia in its schools on April 26, 2023. A unanimous vote of TDSB trustees approved the strategy, which outlines measures to address hate speech and discrimination, educate students and staff about Islamophobia, and support Muslim students.
Based on the advocacy of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), TDSB Trustees Neethan Shan and Liban Hassan introduced the motion, calling for the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to address Islamophobia within TDSB.
TDSB’s decision to adopt an Islamophobia strategy is a significant step toward creating an inclusive and safe environment for Muslim students. Further, it is a clear message from TDSB that Islamophobia has no place in its schools.
With this strategy in place, the TDSB will be able to provide support to Muslim families and students and schools will collaborate with Muslim community organizations to address Islamophobia incidents. The TDSB will investigate and address Islamophobia promptly, and appropriate actions will be taken against those who engage in it. Counseling and resources are available for students and families.
In an effort to create a more equitable and inclusive school system, the adoption of this strategy is an important step toward combating Islamophobia in Canada as a whole. Hate crimes have increased significantly; in a report published by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, nearly two-thirds of Canadian Muslims report experiencing “bias or discrimination” since 9/11. In Canada, hate crimes have increased significantly. By adopting this strategy, the TDSB responds to this alarming trend and demonstrates its commitment to a safe and welcoming learning environment.
In hopes of a safer, more equitable, and inclusive Canada, it is important that other school boards and institutions follow suit.