Toronto-area mom drops request to have oak trees moved away from school

Associated Press

VAUGHAN, Ont. - A mother who sought to have oak trees uprooted and replanted far away from her children's Toronto-area school due to concern over acorn allergies says fierce public reaction and "cyber-bullying" has led her to drop her request.

Donna Giustizia (GEE-steez-ia) asked city councillors in Vaughan, Ont., earlier this month to move the three trees out of fear their nuts could trigger allergic reactions in her two children and others at the elementary school's playground.

But in a letter emailed to councillors Tuesday, Giustizia withdrew the request, taking a dig at the media for what she called "sensational" reporting on her council appearance.

Giustizia's letter says her family has been targeted by "cyber-bullying" over her "friendly request" to have council think about moving the trees somewhere else.

She says the fierce reaction is unfair since in a "free, civilized society" citizens should be able to sound off to their elected officials without fear of personal attacks.

Stories on Giustizia's request were published around the world and spurred acid-tongued comments on online message boards, while experts insisted the allergy risk was minimal.

The school itself has a nut-free policy for the indoor areas but the three oak trees line the playground, dropping their acorns in the play area.

"It is most unfortunate that the media, in reporting the story, chose to sensationalize the news, and has carelessly and cavalierly hurt those who we were trying to protect," she wrote in the letter.

"On a personal level, the cyber bullying and hate-filled sentiments my family and I have had to endure — because of my simply acting in a voluntary capacity, making a friendly request to my City Council on behalf of small children — is ridiculous."

"In a free, civilized society we should be able to voice our opinions, express our concerns, and make our requests to elected officials without fear of reprisal, ridicule, or regret," Giustizia wrote.

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