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My Response To Yet Another Investigation By The Ontario College of Teachers
Last year, in November, I posted a series of tweets showcasing material prepared by an Ontario elementary teacher for “Trans Awareness Week.”
I stumbled upon her slideshow - filled with activities for each day of the week - on Twitter, where she encouraged others teachers to “make a copy” of her work to use in their own classrooms.
Here’s a quick sample.
In the “notes” section of the first slide, the grade 4 or 5 teacher wrote this “letter to parents”:
Under the pillar of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion within the SCDSB Strategic Priorities, your child will be celebrating Transgender Visibility Week this week. Please note that Queer Education is imbedded [sic] within the Ontario curriculum. Knowledge brings understanding, and it is critical all individuals are represented and celebrated within our classroom community.
She isn’t wrong that gender ideology is “embedded.” Though the concept of “gender identity” is technically not part of the Sex Ed curriculum until grade 8 — as I pointed out in one of my tweets — these teachings are being incorporated into classrooms of any grade and subject under the guise of simply “protecting human rights.”
Not to ramble on too long before getting to the specific allegations against me and my response, but for anyone who is unaware, this is because “gender identity” was added to the list of “identifiable groups” protected from discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act in 2017 (see Bill C-16), which has allowed ideologues to conveniently label all reasonable objections to teachings related to “gender identity” as being “anti human rights.”
Under section 2 of the Charter, Canadians are are also guaranteed freedom of thought, belief and expression, but interestingly, these rights are not deemed worthy of “embedding” into lessons.
This June, seven months after my posts, I was advised by the Ontario College of Teachers that I was under investigation for “comments on Twitter regarding a presentation […] related to school activities for Transgender Awareness Week,” including “but not limited to” four tweets they highlighted.
(You can take a look at the entire Twitter thread here.)
There is no other bullet point, to clarify. I was also sent pages of screenshots the complainant sent in, her initial complaint form, along with all communication between her and the College, but it looks like I am not allowed to share those documents.
For a while I felt that it wasn’t worth my time to reply at all, but last night came around — the deadline to respond — and I decided I should write something. It was done quickly, and it’s not all it could have been, but hopefully it will help.
Dear OCT inquiry committee,
I’d like to start by directly addressing the comments submitted by ▇▇▇, which misrepresented my words multiple times.
▇▇▇ alleges that I wrote that “people learning about trans education are ‘intellectually incompetent” and ‘morally deficient,’” and explains that “this conduct is transphobia in action” as “to minimize the harm trans and gender-diverse people face upholds transphobia” and “to titl[e] educators who implement Queer and Trans education as ‘intellectually incompetent’ and ‘morally deficient’ places the educator as someone who is less than for simply teaching about basic human rights.”
As you will see in the series of tweets she submitted, I wrote no such thing. In fact, I never once made reference to “people learning about trans education” or to “educators who implement Queer and Trans education.” What I said, when presenting the series of lessons, was the following:
Then, students are asked to reflect on their answers. Why did they think a boy was a kid with a penis? And a girl was a kid with a vagina? Could it be that they are intellectually incompetent, or morally deficient?
For context, I will explain. ▇▇▇’s lesson started off by asking students what they thought it meant to be a “boy” and a “girl”, before she had them compare answers, and asked them:
“Why did you choose those answers?”
“Do you personally believe those are the right answers? Or is that what people have told you?”
“Do you fit into one category? Or are you ALL of those things?”
She then included a video which told students that “the way your body looks on the outside is only part of the story”, that you can be a boy but “know you’re a girl on the inside” and vice versa, etc.
After, students were led through a “read aloud” of the book “Who are you?” which teaches students that when babies are born, people ask “is it a boy or girl?”, and that “babies can’t talk, so grown ups make a guess by looking at their bodies.” Most people are well aware that this is nonsense; a baby’s sex is simply observed at birth. The book also teaches the grade 4 or 5 students about a variety of “gender identities” (a harmful, pseudoscientific concept that isn’t part of the Ontario Sex Ed curriculum until grade 8).
Students are then asked whether they have changed their answers about what it means to be a boy or girl. In other words, ▇▇▇ collected initial responses from the students with the goal of reorienting them toward a new, politically correct way of defining basic terms like ‘boy’ and ‘girl.’
But boys and girls aren’t feelings, they are realities. A boy is a male child and a girl is a female child. That is why I asked the rhetorical question: “Could it be that they are intellectually incompetent, or morally deficient?” - it is because it is obvious by the biased video and book presented in the slideshow that defining the terms correctly – pointing to biological differences – was soon to be shown as insufficient and/or inaccurate. Kids who defined the terms properly were being led to rethink these concepts in line with the tenets of Queer Theory.
I personally was very much a tomboy growing up. I played sports with the boys, liked wearing ‘boy clothes,’ and doing stereotypically masculine activities. Had my teachers taught me that being a boy is ‘a feeling’ inside me, I may have started to wonder whether I was born in the ‘wrong body’ myself. But no, I was a girl, and I luckily didn’t have any adults in my life planting seeds of confusion about this basic fact. I knew that being gender nonconforming was okay. I never had to wonder whether I needed to change my pronouns or name, take hormones or go under the knife.
It is harmful to be teaching kids that sex is irrelevant, and that what matters is how you “feel” inside. It can easily lead vulnerable kids down a pathway to irreversible harm via medical transition, and that is why it is important that parents are made aware of the kind of lessons children are being taught in Ontario schools. I did not insult ▇▇▇, or accuse her of wrongdoing. I presented the material for the sake of transparency.
▇▇▇ says I “tagged alt-right reporters who are known to harass queer and trans folks such as Jon Kay, Barbara Kay, Sue-Anne [sic] Levy, Candice Malcolm, Ezra Levant, and Andrew Lawton” and that “[t]agging these reporters is a form of harassment as Chanel's purpose for this tag was to penalize ▇▇▇ for implementing Queer and Trans Education.”
I disagree with ▇▇▇’s portrayal of these reporters as “alt-right,” and more importantly I disagree with the idea that the act of tagging someone on Twitter, no matter their political stripes, should be seen as inappropriate. They are journalists who take an interest in public education in Ontario.
Further, I would like to see evidence for the allegation that these reporters “harass queer and trans folks.” Have ▇▇▇’s accusations been proven in a court of law?
▇▇▇ chose to share her lessons on gender ideology publicly, and I chose to shine a light on them. If she takes issue with her content being seen by the public, and in the media, I would kindly suggest she not post them to social media in the first place.
Next, the slideshow claims “there are over 54 gender pronouns.” ▇▇▇ alleges that I “question[ed] if gender identities include ‘tree,’” and says this was “transphobia in action” because it “minimize[d] the identity of those who are gender-variant” and “mocks the gender spectrum.” This is, again, a misportrayal of what I wrote. I asked if the 54 pronouns included the gender pronoun “tree,” because “tree” is a pronoun taught to kids in the book “They, She, He, Easy as ABC,” and it is entirely possible that it was left out.
The member also alleges that I stated ▇▇▇ was “indoctrinating children,” but I did not make such an accusation. What I wrote in my tweet was “have you been indoctrinated yet?”
In other words, I was asking, rhetorically, whether the students would now be able to give a politically fashionable response to the initial question posed by the member (what does it mean to be a boy or girl?), now that they had been exposed to class discussions, a video and a book to veer them toward a different understanding of sex and gender.
Considering ▇▇▇ misinterpreted and/or mischaracterized my tweets in the first place, I am surprised that this complaint was not marked as frivolous or vexatious.
Though ▇▇▇ accuses me of transphobia, I do not in fact hate anyone – not even her. As a teacher, I cared greatly for each and every student I had the pleasure of working with. I paid no attention to their identity categories - that simply was irrelevant to me. What I saw was their humanity, intellectual capacity, creativity and willingness to learn, and I considered myself very lucky to be their teacher.
I am urging the Ontario College of Teachers to consider that lessons of this nature are not appropriate for children, and to reaffirm their support for parental rights and transparency in our public education system.
This is the 4th time the OCT “investigates” me. The first two investigations were dropped last winter, but you can read about the other active investigation here.
Thank you for reading!