Roughly two-dozen supporters protested in front of the Catholic District School Board's office to show support for a student who claims she was bullied by her teacher due to her sexual orientation and whose message to other bullied students is to stand up for yourself.
Grade 12 St. Thomas of Villanova student Brooke Mulligan claims that her religion teacher discriminated against her due to her sexual orientation and that she attended the protest because she wanted "to stand up against bullying."
"It's pretty amazing," Mulligan exclaimed in response to the number of people who attended the protest.
"I've had a past teacher who has been bullying me at school [since] coming out," stated Mulligan who added that the religion teacher when discussing homosexuality would explicitly stare at her during class and taught that "homosexuals can't get married in the Catholic church [which] upset me. Obviously I want to get married when I'm older, in a church."
"We don’t feel that this is a case of bullying but we are still investigating the circumstances," said Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board superintendent Michael Seguin who also explained that an investigation into the matter has been launched.
Mulligan claims that a complaint had been submitted to both the school and the school board, however Seguin stated that the board hasn't received any formal complaint and that Mulligan going to the media caught the board off guard.
"We have so many [programs for inclusion] in place at St. Thomas of Villanova, it was a bit of a surprise that we didn't have the opportunity to handle this situation [internally]," said Seguin who added that protesters "right to express themselves" and that the board "respect[s] that."
Mulligan's mother Tina Dagenais understands that the teacher has "strong beliefs in what she's teaching" however she thinks that the teacher "crossed the line" when she centred out Mulligan.
"Brooke had the strength to stand up and unfortunately there's children out there that don't have that strength," said Dagenais. "Kudos to Brooke for standing up, because maybe it'll help other kids be able to come forth and put a stop to bullying, that's Brooke's message … the bullying has to stop."
Mulligan's sister Ashley finds the situation to be "heart breaking" and is "extremely angry with how a teacher can treat a student."
While at the beginning of the ordeal Mulligan didn't want to go to school, she now claims that she's "strong" and "not going to let anyone bring me down."
Seguin wasn't able to provide a timeline as to when results from the investigation would be provided because the investigation is still "ongoing".