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B.C. acts to protect kids, school staff from disruptive protests

April 10, 2024 at 2:48 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

New legislation will help keep kids safe and focused on their education by preventing disruptive behaviour, including aggressive protests, on school grounds.

“While everyone has a right to freedom of expression, disrupting or scaring kids while they’re learning in schools should be, and soon will be, illegal,” said Premier David Eby. “During the pandemic, when hospitals and health-care workers became the target of anti-vaccine protests, we took action so doctors and nurses could get to work and patients could access care. As schools increasingly become the target, we’re taking similar action to ensure classrooms are safe for kids.”

The proposed legislation will help protect students and staff by giving the Province the authority to prohibit behaviour that impedes access to school grounds, disrupts school programs and activities, or causes concern for physical or mental safety of students and staff.

“Protests are an important way for people to express their views and advocate for change, but not at the expense of the safety of our schools,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “This legislation provides an important tool to help safeguard our schools and protect kids from intimidation and harassment so they can feel safe to learn.”

The new law will provide police the authority to arrest or issue tickets to anyone found impeding access, disrupting educational activities or attempting to intimidate an individual within 20 metres (66 feet) of school grounds.  

“We want to ensure that kids can continue to access the education they need to succeed,” said Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care. “This must be a priority, and we will take any action that is needed to keep kids safe at school.”

This initiative is part of the Province’s commitment to keeping people safe. This includes actions to keep kids and young people safe from online threats and restrict cellphones in school.

“As advocates for safe learning environments, the BC School Trustees Association fully supports protecting students from learning disruptions,” said Carolyn Broady, president, BC School Trustees Association. “This is a significant step towards safeguarding the well-being of our students and staff, fostering an atmosphere where learning can thrive without disruption or intimidation. We extend our gratitude to Premier Eby who met with us on this issue last fall and are grateful for his commitment to addressing our concerns with meaningful action.”

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