The union representing frontline education workers in Ontario is calling on Premier Doug Ford to take action after three of its offices in London, Ont. were found vandalized with messages condemning gender ideology in schools.
Employees with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said hundreds of stickers with sayings such as 'Keep gender politics out of school' and 'Hands off our kids' were plastered all over their buildings on Tuesday morning. At one building site in east London, the front lawn sign was damaged with its glass shattered.
"I was appalled and just speechless," said Mary Henry, president of CUPE local 4222. "There were close to 300 stickers and they were everywhere for no reason whatsoever."
London police said in an email Wednesday evening that it is aware of vandalism to the CUPE buildings and investigations are active and ongoing.
The union represents early child educators, secretaries, custodians, maintenance technicians, and various assistants throughout the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board.
Henry believes the messages were in relation to the "1 Million March 4 Children," planned across the country on Wednesday. Some parents and socially conservative groups have said they will protest LGBTQ-inclusive education policies in the classroom and in extracurricular settings under the banner of parental rights.
Critics and researchers say the term "parental rights" is a misnomer because it doesn't address the concerns of LGBTQ parents or parents of LGBTQ children.
Henry said the premier and Education Minister Stephen Lecce need to speak to the environment that's being created against LGBTQ children.
"They need to take action against it because it's targeted toward children and they're innocent bystanders who are doing the best that they can to be themselves," she said.
"This is unacceptable behaviour that needs to be addressed quickly."
The Ministry of Education responded to a request for comment early Wednesday morning.
"Irrespective of your faith, heritage, sexual orientation, or colour of skin, our government is firmly committed to the safety and well-being of all children in Ontario schools," said Isha Chaudhuri, a spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
"Our priority is to ensure that we get students back to basics and focus on what matters most — strengthening literacy and STEM in the classroom."
Henry says at least 300 stickers were plastered all across the building. (Submitted by Mary Henry )
Laura Walton, president of CUPE's Ontario School Boards Council of Unions said in a statement that the vandalism was intended to intimidate workers.
"Vandalism is a classic tactic of intimidation that has been used against organized workers and oppressed peoples by mobs that oppose freedom, equality, and justice the world over," Walton said.
The Thames Valley District School Board has told union employees to work remotely Wednesday as a safety precaution ahead of planned protests.