Volume three: Prism

Volume Three: Prism features stories submitted by Ontario students on how their gender identity or sexual orientation have shaped their experience in school. This volume primarily features submissions from 2SLGBTQ+ students and girls; homophobia, transphobia, and sexism are common issues discussed. These stories are followed-up by policy recommendations centering the topics of school supports, curriculum and training, and policy planning.

Volume Three: Prism is the final installment of The Volume of Our Voices series. This volume invited students to reflect on how their gender identity or sexual orientation have affected their school experience and primarily features the stories of 2SLGBTQ+ students and girls.

The title of Volume Three draws upon the idea of a prism. Prisms are mediums that colour, refract, or slant whatever is viewed through it. Dispersive prisms are used to break white light into its constituent rainbow colours. Though the student body is oftentimes treated as a monolith, we hope that this volume sheds light on the diversity and breadth of student experiences. Furthermore, we use this concept of a prism to highlight how students’ identities distinctly colour and affect their experiences.

Similar to Volume Two: Negative Space, students’ stories have been arranged together at the beginning of the volume. Individually, the student stories highlight how their gender identity or sexual orientation also intersect with their other identities. Collectively, the stories feature both common and contrasting themes. We encourage readers to think critically about what the similarities and differences between the stories reveal about our education system.

Although Ontario upholds cisnormative, heteronormative, and patriarchal values culturally and institutionally, the province’s schools should strive to be spaces that empower students of all gender identities and sexual orientations to thrive. The purpose of elementary and secondary education is to instill a love of learning, prepare children for life, and create access to post-secondary opportunities, but students are only able to fulfill such goals if they feel safe, welcome, and empowered at school. We should feel accepted, not alienated, by peers and staff. We should feel represented, not demeaned or rendered invisible, in their lesson materials.

Though Ontario has made progress in equity work, these student stories make it plainly clear that there is still a long way to go. We urge all stakeholders reading Volume Three: Prism to act urgently and work to provide students with the education that they deserve.

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