SEXUAL HARASSMENT, THE LAW, AND THE ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS CODE
Sexual harassment including harassment based on sexual orientation is illegal; it will not be tolerated in educational settings. Furthermore, people in positions of authority are required to exercise that authority to prevent harassment and/or penalize the repetition of it.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Sexual harassment is unwanted, uninvited sexual attention. It may involve remarks, gestures or actions of a sexual nature that make a person feel unsafe or uncomfortable. It creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive learning environment. Sexual harassment is illegal. It may include (but is not limited to):
- unwanted, unwelcome physical contact like touching, grabbing or patting;
- rude jokes or suggestive remarks of a sexual nature;
- demeaning nicknames like chick, sexy, stud or babe;
- cat calls, rating or embarrassing whistles;
- insulting remarks about sexual orientation;
- sexually insulting remarks about race, gender, ability or class;
- bragging about sexual prowess for others to hear;
- intimidating hallway behaviour;
- names written on walls or desks – for a good time, call ____;
It is not:
- a hug between friends;
- mutual flirtation;
- sincere and personal compliments.
Degrading jokes, insistent requests for dates, catcalls that cause embarrassment rather than pleasure, pictures scratched on bathroom doors, rating, intimidating remarks or gestures – all of these can be harassing.
When Sexual Harassment Escalates to Sexual Assault
It is important to note that sexual harassment is part of the continuum of violence and some harassing actions can and do escalate to sexual assault. The latter is covered by the Criminal Code and the police must be involved.