For the second day in a row, elementary school classes across the GTA were smaller than usual due to ongoing protests over the Ontario government's new sexual education curriculum.
Toronto District School Board reported there were 28,706 elementary student absences on May 5. As a comparison, the previous Tuesday, April 28, saw 11,818 elementary absences — which means absences across TDSB schools increased by 143 per cent compared to last Tuesday.
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There are approximately 171,800 active elementary students at the TDSB.
In the Peel School Board, officials estimated the rate of students not at school was about 14.5 per cent higher than usual. There are a total of 111,779 Peel elementary students at 209 schools. The board reported that 11,700 elementary students were absent from school on the first day of the protest.
That figure would represent about 10 per cent of all elementary students in Peel and would mean a 14.5 per cent jump from a typical day when an average of about 10,000 students are absent.
However, the absentee rate due to the sex education protest is difficult to pinpoint. The Peel school board cautioned that the number of absences was not specific to the "updated Health and Physical Education curriculum strike," and included all types of absences including field trips, vacations, bus issues, illness and other reasons.
Parents on the other side of the sex ed debate voiced their support for the new curriculum, at least on social media.
A group called "People for Ontario's Sex-Ed Curriculum" launched on Monday and received almost 5,000 Likes, while the hashtag #supportsexed was trending on Twitter throughout the day.