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This Toronto Bar Posted An Anti-Consent Sign Saying "No Means Yes"

Locals Only has since apologized and has pledged to train its staff.

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A Toronto bar is promising to do better after posting a sign that read: "No means yes & yes means a***."

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Katii Capern was at Locals Only, a bar in Toronto's King West neighbourhood, last Saturday when she saw the sign hanging behind the bar.

The "a***" stands for "anal," and it's the same crude, anti-consent message that has turned up at universities and resulted in a Yale frat getting suspended. Capern even confirmed the intended message with her server.

"He was very reluctant to tell me," she told BuzzFeed Canada. "I don’t think he wanted to say it out loud."

Though she didn't say anything to the bar at the time, she now wishes she had.

"The message sunk in completely and I felt sick," she said. "It was an awful, awful feeling but I was frozen."

The next day, she shared a photo of the sign on Bunz, a Toronto-based trading group on Facebook. "It literally made me sick to my stomach last night and I am still fuming over it today," she wrote.

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Commenters pointed out this isn't the first time the bar has put questionable phrases on the sign.

Photos showed previous signs that read, "Dry slump? Do the Trump," and "Snapchat me that pussy."

That in turn prompted people to leave dozens of negative reviews on the bar's Facebook, Yelp, and Google pages.

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The photo also made its way to Viktoria Belle of the Sexual Assault Action Coalition. The group is organizing the Dandelion Project, which aims to provide sexual harassment and assault intervention training to those in the hospitality industry.

"I got on it right away and made contact with the owner," Belle told BuzzFeed Canada.

"This isn’t the first time that we’ve had to intervene when the community has notified us of something of this nature, something that condones rape culture."

Belle said the bar's owner was "very understanding and honest" and said they needed help with education and training for staff.

"He doesn’t want his bar to be associated with this sort of culture," said Belle.

After the photo went viral, Locals Only posted an apology on its Facebook page, saying the sign was "disgusting, derogatory, and insensitive towards a serious issue that we in no shape or form condone."

Facebook: localsonlytoronto

They also said they were taking "appropriate measures" to fire the employee involved.

Belle said the owner has agreed to five recommendations from the Sexual Assault Action Coalition, including staff training, "safe bars" posters, and protocol put in place for their social media channels.

"They realize the severity of the situation they’ve gotten themselves into," said Belle.

Safety at Toronto's bars has been top of mind after the owner and an employee at College Street Bar were charged with allegedly holding a woman captive and sexually assaulting her.

Facebook: SAACTO

Another popular bar also came under fire in 2015 for an anti-trans image posted on its Instagram account.

But the industry also seems to want to fix itself. Belle said since announcing the Dandelion Project, 20 bars and restaurants have come forward to ask for training.

"It’s not about censorship or being sensitive — it’s about human dignity," said Belle.

"And if establishments want to remain using archaic, demoralizing statements like that, they’ll be left in the dust."

Lauren Strapagiel is Managing Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at lauren.strapagiel@buzzfeed.com.

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