TORONTO, ON – The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is calling on Premier Ford to immediately address a PressProgress report that found Minister of Education Stephen Lecce engaged in deplorable anti-Black racist behaviour during his time as a fraternity leader at Western University. His participation in a slave auction fundraiser raises serious concerns about the minister’s understanding of anti-Black racism, and his ability to serve and support students, education workers, and families, particularly those who identify as Black.
Minister Lecce willingly participated in an event that minimized slavery and trivialized its brutality and harmful impacts. It calls his judgement into question, as well as his commitment to dismantling anti-Black racism in the education sector. How can someone who does not have a clear understanding of and commitment to this work be responsible for implementing education policies that are intended to disrupt anti-Black racism and other forms of oppression?
Anti-Black racism is deeply distressing and hurtful, and an apology that neglects to even acknowledge it is not sufficient. Ontarians deserve more from their elected officials. Leaders must work to confront and eliminate anti-Black racism, not perpetuate it.
Educators, families, and school boards cannot have confidence in an educational leader who demonstrates racist behaviour. Only an authentic, non-performative commitment to dismantling anti-Black racism will provide the equity that is every person’s moral and legal right.
ETFO represents approximately 83,000 members, including public elementary teachers, occasional teachers, designated early childhood educators, education support personnel, and professional support personnel. Visit BuildingBetterSchools.ca.