Concerned parents and students are urging the Quebec government to take action following a series of allegations involving inappropriate sexual behaviour at an all-girls school in the eastern part of Montreal.
A former teacher at Louise-Trichet High School in Tetraultville is facing accusations of sexual misconduct and grooming that allegedly spanned over a period of 20 years.
According to the Montreal school service center, an investigation into the teacher was conducted in 2021; however, he resigned before the investigation concluded.
The Centre de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) issued a statement condemning inappropriate actions and comments in schools and encouraging individuals to report such incidents. They clarified that while no criminal charges were filed, an investigation recommended the teacher’s dismissal as a disciplinary measure. However, he resigned before the dismissal process could take place.
However, a former student revealed that the teacher’s behaviour was an open secret, recounting instances where he made inappropriate comments about girls’ bodies, including describing the physique of a 14-year-old student in front of the class.
The former student attempted to report the misconduct to the school administration in 2018 but claims her complaints were disregarded. She expressed frustration, stating that her concerns were not taken seriously, and she was simply removed from the teacher’s class, and labeled as a problematic student.
Following the public disclosure of the allegations, parents of Louise-Trichet students expressed concerns about their daughter’s safety at the school. They criticized what they perceived as the trivialization of the issue and claimed that the voices of the children were being ignored while teachers were being protected.
In response to the prevalence of sexual violence in schools, the education ministry initiated a general investigation in March. The school service center confirmed that these allegations are part of the ongoing investigation. Advocates, however, argue that stricter legislation is necessary to address the issue effectively.
Advocates, such as Mélanie Lemay, a spokesperson for La voix des jeunes compte, believe that comprehensive legislation is needed to address the everyday occurrences of sexual violence in schools. They argue that by failing to take decisive action, perpetrators are allowed to continue their abusive behaviour.
Last month, Québec solidaire introduced a bill aimed at preventing and combating sexual violence in schools, which includes a reporting protocol. However, the bill currently lacks support from the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government. The CAQ government asserts that sexual violence falls under the jurisdiction of the newly established national student ombudsman.