By TOM GODFREY
Some Ontario secondary school students will be learning how to stand up for their rights from an updated guide specially compiled to mark the UN International Human Rights Day.
A new and improved edition of a popular school package, Teaching Human Rights in Ontario (THRIO), was recently released by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to mark the UN’s Human Rights Day.
OHRC Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall said the third edition of the Ontario Human Rights Code has been updated to reflect the many changes that have happened in human rights in the past decade.
Hall, in a statement, said in June 2012 the Code was updated to ban discrimination based on the new grounds of gender identity and gender expression.
“We live in challenging times,” the former Toronto mayor said. “As our society becomes more diverse, the human rights challenges we face become more complex.”
Commission spokeswoman Afroze Edwards told Share the package includes information and activities to help students distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour under the Code.
Edwards said most situations used in the guide are based on real-life cases at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario or the courts.
“This edition focuses on Ontario’s Human Rights Code, its human rights system, and recent developments in human rights policy and case law,” Edwards said.
A Students’ Handouts section includes a quiz on human rights, five fact sheets and 12 case studies to help students increase their awareness of the Code, their rights and responsibilities under the law and how to protect those rights.
Edwards said the package has links to the Commission’s Living Rights Project, a web-based virtual library that features interviews with human rights leaders and people who share their human rights experiences.
“The guide offers links to human rights experiences from the past,” according to the OHRC website. “These stories serve as vivid life-learning lessons that can help advance human rights in the future…”
OHRC officials said the package can be used by secondary school teachers for law, history and civics courses or by co-op education programs. It can also be used in other high school courses, such as media studies.
The OHRC is one of three agencies that make up Ontario’s human rights system. The other branches are the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.
The package is available on the Commission’s website at www.ohrc.on.ca and printed copies are available in English and French.