Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Toronto School Board celebrates International Sex Workers’ Day

Every year, the Toronto District School Board publishes a Days of Significance Calendar for students. It includes the holidays of different religions and various UN mandated observances. May 15, for example, is the International Day of Families.

The TDSB also includes the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on the Calendar.

You might find it odd that the Board thinks violence against sex workers is an issue school kids should worry about. I certainly do. I hope that for most of their school careers our kids won’t even know sex workers exist.

The Board could choose to highlight all sorts of different days. For instance, National Library week was October 17 – 24 and National School Library Day was October 22.  But these don't make it onto the School Board’s Calendar. So why do sex workers rate and librarians don’t?

Other international days get on the Calendar because they were declared by the UN. Not the sex workers’ day. It was actually started by sex workers. Specifically by Annie Sprinkle (that would be her professional name, you understand) and the Sex Workers Outreach Project.

The day is celebrated each year by prostitutes, strippers, porn actors, dominatrixes and, bizarrely, by the Toronto District School Board.

In Toronto, the main sponsor of the sex workers day is Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project. This is a prostitutes’ organization which provides many practical workshops for its members. On May 8, for example, Maggie’s offered “Tips on client screening for escorts and BDSM pros” (here).

But Maggie’s focus is also political. As with all the prostitutes’ groups organizing around the December 17th sex workers’ day, they “advocate for removal of all laws that criminalize sex work.”

Maggie’s also thinks that prostitution should be just one more possible career path, without any negative stigma: “Maggie’s advocates that we should all have the right to choose or reject sex work, just as we have the right to choose or reject any other kind of work,” it says on their web site.

Or as the Dec 17th Organization headquartered in New York puts it, they oppose “the stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by the prohibitionist laws [against prostitution].”

Of course violence against sex workers is wrong. Indeed, it's illegal, as is violence perpetrated against anyone. As for prostitution laws, I don’t have strong opinions one way or the other. But I am clear that the Toronto School Board shouldn’t be jumping in to support any political goal. Period. 

Unfortunately, it's not clear that the Board understands this.

And I find it almost beyond belief that the Board has chosen to promote a day that’s especially set aside to promote the rights of sex workers and the repeal of prostitution laws.

Initially, I supposed that the inclusion of the sex workers' day on the Days of Significance Calendar must be some sort of screw up. Once I brought it to the Board’s attention, I figured the sex workers day would be dropped from the on-line version of the Calendar immediately, and I’d get an embarrassed but thankful email for bringing this to their attention.

That was six weeks ago. I’ve had assurance from the Board that they're taking my concerns seriously, but the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers remains on the Days of Significance Calendar.

As far as I can tell it’s not a slip-up at all. the sex workers day has been on the Board's calendar for at least two years, because in its wisdom, the Toronto District School Board chose to promote December 17th – that special day set aside for prostitutes, strippers, and dominatrixes and the rights of young people to choose such professions without shame.


  1. Thanks for attempting to fight the progressive morontocracy.

  2. This is crazy... thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  3. This really disturbs me. I wish I understood the rationale for these kinds of decisions, or maybe I don't. Thanks for your efforts, Brian!