Canadian Teachers Federation honors grade 5 teacher for pushing gay agenda despite parent backlash
The Canadian Teachers Federation honored a Manitoba teacher last month for promoting acceptance of homosexuality in his grade 5 classroom despite opposition from parents.
Peter Wohlgemut, who teaches at West Park School in the predominantly Mennonite community of Altona, faced backlash after displaying a card in his classroom proclaiming himself an “ally.”
“Peter Wohlgemut is a role model for all educators in Canada to stand up in the face of hate mongering and be the public face for progressive change in public education,” the Canadian Teachers Federation states in the brochure for its annual general meeting on July 9-11, where they gave him a Special Recognition Award.
According to the CTF, Wohlgemut participated in a training session at the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg and upon finishing the course was given an “ally” training certificate which he put up in his classroom.
The card features a rainbow and the words “As an Ally, I support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, intersex, queer and questioning individuals, families and communities.”
“It’s a small card, just 4x6 inches… it’s kind of a declaration of what you believe and what you’re working towards,” Wohlgemut explained.
Several parents asked him to take the card down, but he refused. Parents took their concern to the school board, which ordered him to remove it.
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The Altona Echo reports the parents said that the language on the card was not age-appropriate for children in grade 5, and that provincial guidelines give parents, not schools, the prime responsibility for education about sexuality.
“This is not about being homophobic or anti-gay. We just want our kids to be kids,” said parent Corey Wall.
Border Land School Division superintendent Krista Curry responded by telling Wohlgemut to remove the card and replace it with one that says, “As your teacher, I am your ally. I accept and support you in every way.”
Wohlgemut told the CTF, “In my classroom where I have direct control, we never make groups based on gender… and generally I try to challenge some of the stereotypes that the kids hold.” He stated that he tells the children, “the stereotypes or even the roles that hold in your family may not hold here, and you have to be ok with that.”
He said he is looking forward to getting school books in his classroom that reflect “gender diversity.”
Canadian Teachers' Federation
Dianne Woloschuk, President
2490 Don Reid Drive
Ottawa ON K1H 1E1
Email: via website