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Appendix 6 – The Code and the classroom: taking the human rights temperature of your school (for students)

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This activity is based on “Taking the Human Rights Temperature of Your School” which was adapted from the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[4]

You can evaluate your school’s human rights climate using criteria derived from both the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the Declaration) and the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). The questions here are adapted from both of these sources.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

The questions are related to the fundamental human right to education found in Article 26 of the Declaration, which states:

Everyone has the right to education… Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human and fundamental freedoms.

Preamble of the Code:

The Preamble of the Code states that it recognizes:

…inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world and is in accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the United Nations …

The Preamble also recognizes that it is:

public policy in Ontario to recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination that is contrary to law.


  1. to assess human rights conditions in your school community
  2. to reflect critically on forces within the school community that affect the human rights climate
  3. to help you derive an action plan that improves human rights in your school community.

Grade level: Students from grades 7 – 12, teachers, educators, parents and volunteers.

The score from your answers provides a general sense of the school’s human rights climate, following the principles of the Declaration and the Code.

This assessment does not cover everything. It is meant to help you identify specific areas of concern in your school community that may need to be addressed. 

How to take the temperature

Take the human rights temperature of your school. Read each statement, and in the blank next to it, write your thoughts of how accurately it describes your school community. When doing this, think about all members of your school: students, teachers, administrators, staff and the school community.

At the end, total your score to determine your overall assessment (out of 100) for your school.

Rating scale

1 – No/never

2 – Rarely

3 – Often

4 – Yes/always

____   1. My school is a place where all students, teachers and staff feel safe and secure. (Art. 3 and 5 of the Declaration)

____   2. My school is a discrimination-free and harassment-free zone where everyone – students, teachers, school staff, parents and volunteers – feels they have the right to equal treatment without discrimination because of a Code ground. (sections 1, 3, 5, 7(2), 7(3), 8 and 9 of the Code)

____   3. My school environment recognizes and respects the dignity and worth of every student, no matter what their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, age, marital status, family status or disability when receiving services, in employment and accessing school facilities. (Preamble, sections 1, 5 and 7 of the Code)

____   4. All students receive equal information and encouragement about academic and career opportunities. (Art. 2 of the Declaration)

____   5. In every aspect of school life, all students have a right to equal treatment when receiving services – in education, extra-curricular activities, school community events, etc. – and with goods and facilities such as access to the gym, sports fields, bank instruments, etc. (s. 1 of the Code)

____   6. Members of the school community are not discriminated against because of their lifestyle choices, such as manner of dress, associating with certain people, and choice of non-school activities. (Art. 2 and 16 of the Declaration)

____   7. In accordance with the Code, members of the school community are treated equally and with dignity and respect no matter what their sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, gender identity or association. (sections 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 of the Code)

____   8. My school provides equal access, resources, activities and scheduling accommodations for all individuals. (Art. 7 of the Declaration

We accommodate the needs of students with disabilities with their education and in providing physical accessibility. My school also accommodates based on other Code grounds (for example, family status) and includes accessible facilities such as washroom or change rooms. (sections 1 and 17 of the Code)

____   9. Members of my school community will oppose any discriminatory or demeaning actions, materials or slurs in the school. (Art. 2, 3, 7, 28, & 29 of the Declaration)

Members of my school community understand that Code violations are not acceptable. This includes bullying, harassing conduct or comments, and reprisal (which means punishing) against anyone who tries to enforce a Code right. (sections 8, 9 and 10 of the Code)

____   10. When someone demeans or violates the rights of another person, the violator is helped to change his or her behaviour. (Art. 26 of the Declaration)

Our school provides human rights education. Our conflict resolution policies are consistent with the Code’s remedial rather than punitive nature.

____   11. Members of my school community care about my full human rights, as well as academic development, and try to help me when I am in need. (Art. 3, 22,
26, & 29 of the Declaration)

____   12. When conflicts arise, teachers help us try to resolve them through non-violent and collaborative ways (Art. 3, 28 of the Declaration), and have in place an effective dispute resolution mechanism. My school also recognizes and appreciates the need to balance competing human rights claims.

____   13. My school board has policies and procedures that it follows when anyone has a complaint of harassment or discrimination (Art. 3 & 7 of the Declaration).

My school has an effective anti-discrimination/harassment policy that has an internal process to address human rights issues. 

____   14. In matters related to discipline (including suspension and expulsion), all persons are assured of a fair hearing, and impartial treatment when determining guilt and assigning punishment. (Art. 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10 of the Declaration)

____   15. Someone accused of wrongdoing is presumed innocent until proven guilty. (Art. 11 of the Declaration)

____   16. Students’ personal space and possessions are respected. (Art. 12 and 17 of the Declaration)

____   17. My school community welcomes students, teachers, administrators and staff from diverse backgrounds and cultures, including people not born in Canada. (Art. 2, 6, 13, 14, & 15 of the Declaration)

School staff, including educators and administrative staff, reflect the student community.

____   18. Students have the freedom to express their beliefs and ideas (political, religious, cultural or other) without fear of discrimination (Art. 19 of the Declaration), and and in doing so I understand that I must not expose a person or persons to discrimination, harassment or other forms of different treatment based on a Code ground.

____   19. Members of my school can produce and disseminate publications without fear of censorship or punishment (Art. 19 of the Declaration), providing that the publication or display including any “notice, sign, symbol, emblem,” etc. does not show an intention to infringe or incite the infringement of the Code right of another. (section 13 of the Code)

____   20. Diverse voices and perspectives (for example, gender, race/ethnicity, ideological) are represented in courses, textbooks, assemblies, libraries and classroom instruction. (Art. 2, 19, & 27 of the Declaration)

____   21. Students have the opportunity to express their culture through music, art and literary form. (Art. 19, 27, & 28 of the Declaration)

____   22. Members of my school community have the opportunity to take part (individually and through associations) in democratic decision-making processes to develop school policies and rules. (Art. 20, 21, & 23 of the Declaration)

____   23. Members of my school have the right to form associations within the school to advocate for their rights or the rights of others. (Art. 19, 20, & 23 of the Declaration)

____   24. Members of my school encourage each other to learn about societal and global problems related to justice, ecology, poverty and peace (Preamble and Art. 26 & 29 of the Declaration). Members of my school encourage each other to organize and take action to address societal and global problems related to justice, ecology, poverty and peace. (Preamble and Art. 20 & 29 of the Declaration).

For example, my school has these clubs:





____   25. I proactively take responsibility in my school to make sure others do not discriminate, and that they behave in ways that promote the safety and well-being of my school community.  (Art. 1 and 29 of the Declaration and section 46.3(1) of the Code)

Total score for your school: _____ (out of 100 Human Rights Degrees)

Adapted from the “Taking the Human Rights Temperature of your School”

D. Shiman & K. Rudelius-Palmer, Economic and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective (Minneapolis: Human Rights Resource Center, University of Minnesota, 1999),

[4] Source: Shiman, David. Economic and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective. Minneapolis, MN: Human Rights Resource Center, University of Minnesota, 1999.

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