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The Whole Truth

What do students want their teachers to know when teaching about gender-based violence issues? We asked three groups of students ages 11-17 in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia and here's what they told us:

1) Their schools were not really teaching about GBV. When they are, it's in a narrow way that is focused on girls and women as victims, without connecting to broader systems of gender inequality and other forms of violence and discrimination including racism, colonialism, heteronormativity, and ableism.

2) They want to hear about multiple aspects of GBV issues, including how to prevent and respond to GBV and survivors' journeys to recovery. They especially want to learn about GBV from people who have lived experiences relevant to GBV (not from worksheets!).

3) Students call for a supportive learning environment, characterized by strong student-teacher and teacher-teacher relationships. They want to feel as if there are friends and mentors they can turn to if they are struggling to deal with GBV issues themselves.

4) Students have valuable knowledge and perspectives to share! They call for more opportunities to shape the learning process and space to their knowledge with their peers and teachers.

5) GBV is already present in young people's lives. Both girls groups consulted described frequently experiencing sexual harassment in and out of schools. For the Indigenous girls we spoke with, these experiences were compounded by racialized and colonial violence. These experiences directly contradicted the safe and supportive learning environments they were seeking.

Want to know more? Click here for the academic article written by Drs. Catherine Vanner and Salsabel Almanssori, published in the journal Pedagogy, Culture and Society.

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