Ontario schools will offer gender studies, thanks to five young women

How might Rehtaeh Parsons’ life been different had her school offered a gender studies course?

“Instead of talking about what the girl did and how ‘she had this coming to her,’ the focus might have been on ‘how these guys go through life not knowing about consent?’ ” says Lara Shkordoff.

“It would have provided a safe space for students to talk about these things,” says Sarah Ghabrial.

Parsons is the Nova Scotia teenager who killed herself earlier this month, 1½ years after she was allegedly raped by three or four guys at a party who snapped a photo of their act and sent it around to her classmates as a trophy.

Shkordoff and Ghabrial are two of five young women we can thank for getting gender studies onto the Ontario high school curriculum starting next September. Finally.

It took them eight long, dogged years.

They launched their campaign while studying the University of Western Ontario, where for the first time they were exposed to women’s history, and feminist theory and the concept of gender as something that’s built, not born. They were taking women’s studies classes.


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