Bias Against School Inclusion in Toronto Star Reporting, 2019

This is a section of a larger paper where we examined the Toronto Star’s coverage of the Ontario Government’s autism funding decisions in 2019. You can read the full paper at: autisticmediawatchcanada.com

In its coverage of school inclusion in 2019, the Toronto Star perpetuated the myth that inclusion of disabled children at school is a “burden”.

The Star did not, in any of its coverage, ever present the positive aspects of school inclusion. It never interviewed any school inclusion experts. It never talked to disabled people about inclusion.

The Star referred to 1,000 newly-mainstreamed autistic children into Ontario schools (which is less than one child per school) as an “influx” and an “unsustainable burden,” creating stigma around mainstreamed children and never speaking to any experts on mainstreaming or even defining the term. The Star used the following terms:

Terms the Star didn’t use to describe including less that one new autistic child per school in Ontario include:

  • “equitable”
  • “inclusion”
  • “mainstreaming”
  • desegregation
  • “access”
  • “equality”
  • “welcoming”

In covering the story, Star journalist Laurie Monsebraaten wrote: “Educators are predicting chaos in the classroom as children with autism enter the school system.” This commentary (disguised as news) distills the Star’s entire approach to the matter of disability inclusion in schools during the period studied.

Read our full report: Star media bias in school inclusion reporting 2019

Note: We reviewed 39 news articles, 2 OpEds written by the Star and 1 Toronto Star OpEd from a lobby leader. (See paper for methodology.)