Today, Yasir Naqvi, Liberal MPP for Ottawa Centre, proudly voted for Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, 2012, to pass Third Reading. A strong majority of Ontario’s MPPs supported this important legislation and the bill will now become law in time for the new school year beginning in September.
Bill 13 was originally introduced on November 30, 2011 by the McGuinty government. It requires all school boards to take preventative measures against bullying, consider tougher consequences for bullying, and support students who want to promote understanding and respect for all. It also builds upon the government’s Equity and Inclusive Education and Safe Schools Strategies that allows Ontario children to learn in a safe and inclusive environment.
During the final debate on Bill 13 in the Legislature yesterday afternoon, MPP Naqvi said “the bill speaks about bullying of all kinds, but it also ensures, based on evidence, a focus on the kind of bullying that our kids face the most, be it based on gender, on race, on disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. We need to make sure that our children are not facing discrimination, harassment or bullying because of these factors.”
One of the key amendments made to the Bill before it passed was the strengthening of protections for students who experience LGBTQ-related bullying, or who wish to create positive-space groups in their schools related to LGBTQ issues. With this enhanced provision, students in any publicly-funded school across Ontario will now be free to create student-led peer support groups in their schools, and have the ability to specifically call them “gay-straight alliances” or other similar names.
“I am extremely proud of what we are accomplishing through Bill 13,” said MPP Naqvi. “As leaders in our communities, we are taking an important step today and sending a very strong message that bullying, in any form, is not acceptable. Together, we are helping secure a brighter future for our children.”