Danielle S. McLaughlin
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Danielle McLaughlin was the Director of Education for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust from 1988 to 2016. Recipient of the 2010-2011 Law Foundation of Ontario Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship, she spent the first 6 months of 2011 as a visiting fellow at the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor. Danielle designed, developed and delivered CCLET’s Teaching Civil Liberties and Civil Liberties in the Schools programs that each year engage thousands of students from kindergarten to high schools, to faculties of education, to law schools in lively discussion about the conflicts of rights and freedoms that affect everyone who lives in a democracy. She is co-author of the That’s Not Fair! stories, written for civic engagement of young children www.thatsnotfair.ca. Danielle's book for kids 7-11 Kids Can Press is now available. A regular blogger about education and civil liberties at the HuffingtonPost.ca, Danielle believes that the best answer to a difficult question is usually another question.

Between 1997 and 2001, in addition to her educational and administrative duties, Danielle represented the Canadian Civil Liberties Association on the Toronto Police Services Board sub-committee on Race Relations.

Entries by Danielle S. McLaughlin

Should Children Be Taught What Private Body Parts Are?

(5) Comments | Posted May 17, 2016 | 10:26 AM

A few decades ago, a good friend of mine went to St. Vincent to visit her new in-laws. It turned out that this family, although warm and welcoming, was very proper. They used what my friend later learned were some rather odd circumlocutions. She told me that they...

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Who Watches The Watchmen And Teaches The Teachers?

(6) Comments | Posted April 8, 2016 | 5:27 PM

This may come as a shock to some readers: Teachers are human beings -- nearly all of them. This means that, like the rest of us, they make mistakes, behave badly, and sometimes just lose it.

It also means that, like the rest of us, most teachers are basically good...

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What's Worse Than Skipping School?

(53) Comments | Posted March 21, 2016 | 11:28 AM

Last week, just before March break, a high school student in Ontario was sent to jail overnight. Her offence was truancy. Apparently, this young woman was in the habit of skipping school. While I do not know anything about the circumstances of her life or what led up...

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Who Gets To Decide Who You Are?

(17) Comments | Posted February 12, 2016 | 4:06 PM

One of the most difficult questions that everyone who lives in a democracy faces is "Who gets to say?" Who interprets law, who determines how I identify myself, and most importantly, who makes the final decision about where we draw lines?

This week's news has brought a few troubling stories...

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Resist Those Who Put A Price On Academic And Artistic Freedom

(20) Comments | Posted January 26, 2016 | 11:40 AM

Is there a difference between putting pressure on government and on a non-governmental agency? And what, for these purposes, IS government? Should a university, which guarantees academic and artistic freedom, capitulate to pressure put on it by a generous donor? Should an activist organization make policy decisions based upon what...

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Academic Freedom Belongs To The Easily Offended, Too

(7) Comments | Posted January 12, 2016 | 4:52 PM

Dear Prof. Michael Persinger:

As a life-long civil libertarian and a pain in the butt to those who would quell freedom of expression, I feel the need to converse with you.

I understand that you are being disciplined by Laurentian University, where you hold tenure, for...

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We Can Fight Fear With Simple Acts Of Kindness

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2015 | 3:30 PM

Last week, a high school student got onto a crowded subway car at rush hour. While there seemed to be no place left for anyone to sit and those standing were crowded together, a space around her quickly cleared. In fact she found herself the sole occupant of a row...

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What You Have Taught Your Teens About Strangers Is All Wrong

(0) Comments | Posted October 19, 2015 | 4:55 PM

"I think I have just met one of the worst human beings on earth and she happens to be in grade eleven." I received this text from a teacher this week and it worries me a lot.

My colleagues and I at the Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust...

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Canada's Most Engaged Citizens Might Actually Be Too Young to Vote

(20) Comments | Posted September 5, 2015 | 9:18 AM

I heard a story from a teacher last week. I am not sure if it is true, but it sure made me think. The teacher, who teaches law and civics in a public high school, told me that during a previous election she had talked with her grade 10-12 students...

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How Far Should We Go to Accommodate Religious Requests?

(73) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 1:27 PM

Last week, a woman travelling on a Porter flight from New York to Toronto was asked to move to another seat to accommodate an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man, possibly because his faith prevented him from sitting next to women, but we don't know for sure. She refused...

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Remembering A. Alan Borovoy

(0) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 4:34 PM

Alan Borovoy was my friend, my mentor, my boss, and my most worthy opponent. He drove me nuts.

Since his death from natural causes in May, there have been hundreds of words written to describe Alan's brilliance, his reverence for democracy and human rights, his courage and his tenacity....

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How This Teacher Made a Difference

(1) Comments | Posted June 23, 2015 | 7:55 AM

This is the week when we are supposed to say thanks and farewell to our teachers. They and our children now get a well-deserved break from each other. With any luck, we will have a chance to reflect on teaching and learning, before it all starts again in the fall....

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We Are Not Protecting Our Children by Shielding Them From the Realities of Sex

(20) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 5:12 PM

Right now, there is a storm raging about sexual education in Ontario schools.

I have seen picket signs in front of local schools that say "Teach facts, not sex." What does this mean? Isn't sex a fact? We all arrived in the world because of it. And now that we...

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Let's Have a Picnic in Taber, Alberta (But Don't Spit, or Swear!)

(19) Comments | Posted March 14, 2015 | 9:06 AM

A few years ago, my colleagues and I created a website to help kids learn about their rights and freedoms. We called it That's Not Fair! because even young children have a strong sense of fairness. We made six animated videos to show how silly ignoring Charter rights...

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Strip Searching a Quebec Student Violated Her Rights

(8) Comments | Posted February 22, 2015 | 10:31 PM

Last week, a teenage girl who was suspected of harboring drugs while in her Quebec school was taken by her female principal and vice-principal to a room where she was ordered to remove ALL of her clothing, including her underwear. She was not permitted to call her mother. No drugs...

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Why It's Important That Laws Can and Do Change

(1) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 12:03 PM

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law that prohibited physician-assisted dying. I have heard arguments on a number of sides of this issue, but few opinions are expressed as strongly as those I have heard from young people. What an opportunity the Court has given us...

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We Must Teach Kids That Free Speech Has More Than One Side

(10) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 11:32 AM

A friend asked me some very difficult questions last week. Should she let her child look at the sex ads in the back of the local free weekly magazine? Should she make sure that her 10-year-old cannot get hold of the magazine? Or should she show the ads so the...

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Why Did This Ottawa School Principal Stop Kids From Discussing Gay Rights?

(74) Comments | Posted November 29, 2014 | 11:38 AM

Two grade six girls in Ottawa wanted to do a project on gay rights, a project that would be a part of their social justice curriculum. But horrors! When the principal found out that they wanted to talk to their fellow students, some as young as eight or...

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Teaching Newcomers How to Complain

(0) Comments | Posted November 14, 2014 | 3:31 PM

I heard a story this week about a civics lesson. It did not take place in a high school. It was a lesson both learned and taught by some elderly newcomers who were participants in a civic awareness project. Along with learning to speak English and finding out about the...

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Why Do Schools Implement These Ridiculous Rules?

(20) Comments | Posted October 10, 2014 | 6:05 PM

What is it with some schools? Do administrators really enjoy being held up to ridicule? Have they learned nothing about living in a democracy? What about the idea that everyone is owed respect? Or do they believe the concept of "everyone" excludes students?

This week, a Grade 3...

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