Toronto school takes down Mother's Day message following criticism

Published May 9, 2023 3:45 p.m. ET
Updated May 10, 2023 11:12 a.m. ET

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Some parents in Toronto’s east end are calling out a local school for posting what they claim was a "harmful" and "exclusionary" Mother’s Day greeting on its outdoor message board.

On Tuesday morning, an area resident and mother of four posted to a local parenting group on Facebook about the signage outside Kew Beach Junior Public School at 101 Kippendavie Ave.

The message in question reads:

“Life does not come with a manual. It comes with a mom.”

The woman, whose children do not attend the school, objected to the message because it leaves out many families.

She decided to go public with her concerns and her initial post has since been commented on dozens of times.

“I don’t know if this is a terribly misguided attempt at wishing folks a happy Mother’s Day or just generally the worst sign possible …,” she wrote. “I don’t feel like this represents the neighbourhood it’s in, the cohort of families at this school, or anything really.”

The woman told that it should have been a “no-brainer” for the school to post a more inclusive message, especially given the presence of many non-traditional families in the wider community.

Dozens of parents have since chimed in on the post, most of whom said that they find the message problematic.

One person said that the greeting was in “bad taste” while others called it “inappropriate,” and “mega exclusionary.”

Those who shared concerns about the message said that it does not take into account different kinds of families, those with “kids in foster care, kids with two dads, kids who have no contact with their moms, kids who have abusive moms,” who may or may not see their mother figure as the one who holds the “manual” of life.

A number of people ultimately emailed and called the school, which has since put up a new generic message on its outdoor sign.

“Grade 6 students at Kew Beach came up with the first quote collectively as they prepare for Mother’s Day this weekend, to share how much they care for and depend on their moms,” TDSB spokepeson Shari Schwartz-Maltz told in a statement.

“Upon feedback, the school recognized that this quote does not reflect the inclusivity of our community, and took immediate steps to address the issue. The sign has now been updated with a new message of an encouraging acronym for May:

M: Make This Month Count

A: Accomplish Your Goals

Y: You Can Do This."

While many parents did take issue with the sign, others said that they didn’t view it as exclusionary.

A few parents who shared their thoughts on the post said that they don’t take offense with the sign.

“This sign does not say anything else more than what it states, it does not say you cannot be a woman, you cannot go to work, you cannot share taking care of kids with your partner,” one wrote.

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