Regulator reviews standards in wake of controversial teacher who wears huge fake breasts to class
Rebel News personality David Menzies showed up at a meeting of the Halton District School Board dressed in a look-a-like costume of the teacher
Oct 13, 2022 • 1 day ago • 5 minute read • 352 Comments
Ontario’s governing body for licensing and regulating schoolteachers has agreed to review its professional standards after controversy over a high school teacher wearing enormous prosthetic breasts to class with prominent nipples barely constrained in tight clothing.
The apparel of the transgender industrial arts teacher at Oakville Trafalgar High School, west of Toronto, sparked a frenzy that spread online and around the world, fuelled by social media photos and videos from students.
Ontario’s education minister, Stephen Lecce, asked the Ontario College of Teachers on Sept. 26 to review and consider strengthening professional conduct provisions.
The teachers college accepted the challenge.
“The College has been reviewing its professional standards in response to Minister Lecce’s request. We will provide our response to the Minister when it is ready,” said Andrew Fifield, a college spokesperson.
“Per the Minister’s request, we are reviewing the supports and guidance the College provides to members with respect to teacher professionalism.”
The findings are expected to be shared with Lecce this month.
Fifield said the college cannot comment on individual teachers, schools, or school boards as the controversy continues, online and in person.
The issue has been embraced by activists and commentators and at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Halton District School Board, Rebel News personality David Menzies showed up dressed in a look-a-like costume of the teacher.
Interrupting the board meeting, Menzies stood and tried to present a petition calling for the board and the board’s director of education to be fired, as a security officer approached him at the request of Margo Shuttleworth, the board’s chairperson.
“Who is going to take this petition” Menzies asked, holding a microphone as cameras rolled from several angles. “Which one of you cowards, which one of you woke cowards is gonna take this petition?”
Shuttleworth called a recess that stretched 20 minutes.
Afterwards, she apologized to those who remained in the meeting.
“You shouldn’t have had to go through that. We really appreciate the grit you all had in dealing with that,” Shuttleworth said. “Democracy takes all kinds of people. But if you’re not going to abide by the rules, you’re not going to be able to stay.”
There was a question from the public about dress codes near the end of the four-hour meeting, much of which was held in private. Questions must be submitted in writing in advance, and the specific question was not read aloud.
The board said a report on dress codes for Halton schools was previously requested. Sari Taha, superintendent of Human Resources, said the report was expected to be presented at the board’s first meeting in November.
That schedule means it will likely follow the Ontario College of Teachers’ report to the minister.
The college does not have power over school boards but does license, govern and regulate the teaching profession for publicly funded schools in the province, including issuing, suspending and revoking teaching certificates, setting ethical standards and standards of practice, and investigating complaints about members. Teachers must have a valid teaching certificate.
Questions from National Post to Lecce on the status of his request and further updates on the case went unanswered prior to publication. The Post was unable to reach the teacher.
The Oakville high school declined to provide any new information on the situation, including questions on the teacher’s status, deeming it a private and confidential employment matter. Questions were referred to the board.
“The HDSB has received significant attention online and in the news over the past few weeks,” Heather Francey, a board spokesperson, said in a written statement.
The board “continues to handle this matter in a way that stays true to our values and commitment to Human Rights, respects the privacy and dignity of our students and staff, and with the safety and well-being of students and staff as our highest priority.”
“While we understand the desire for information by the public, we will not and cannot publicly discuss any matter that identifies our staff directly or indirectly.
“We trust the public will understand the parameters that guide us.”
Photos and videos of the teacher published on social media by students created a storm of alarmed headlines in several countries and in multiple languages, some treating it as humour and others as outrage.
It was online engagement that drove the controversy and much of the online engagement is now convinced the teacher is trolling the board.
The theory — drawn from no discernible facts — is that the teacher earlier had a disagreement with school officials for not being serious or sensitive enough towards diversity initiatives and in retort is confronting the school with an exaggerated outcome of their policies in something akin to performance art.
It’s suggested in online posts the teacher may hope to be fired for the display to highlight board hypocrisy, or perhaps boost some negotiation.
The theory seems fuelled by disbelief the teacher’s chosen apparel and the out-sized presentation of the prosthetic could be legitimate, mixed with assumptions on attitudes expected from a teacher specializing in technological education, what is often called industrial arts or shop.
Videos online show the teacher instructing about woodwork.
The images sparked protests outside schools, online memes, and an abundance of commentary. There seemed to be some parents of students at the school upset or concerned about the teacher at protests, and some students spoke to the media against the teacher’s attire.
Protest, however, appeared dominated by those without direct involvement at the school.
Protesters mingled outrage with the school with concerns over critical race theory, opposition to vaccine mandates and vaccinations, anger at Justin Trudeau, anger that George Floyd is remembered for being murdered by a police officer rather than as a “criminal,” and fear over pedophilia and sexual grooming of children. Some protesters threatened the media, lambasted unions, and lampooned climate change.
Others stuck to the concern over the appropriateness of the teacher’s outfits, classroom safety and the school’s response to it.
Reaction to the situation required police attention, including a bomb threat that was found not to be a threat to safety. Halton Regional Police continues to monitor the situation and investigate any threats, said Const. Ryan Anderson.
There were no arrests related to the protests, he said.
“While we cannot discuss our service’s operational plans, we want to emphasize that our priorities are to ensure public safety and to keep the peace. The HRPS continues to review security measures for everyone involved.”
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