May 1, 2020 (Everyday for Life Canada) — In the December 2019 edition of the Ontario teachers' magazine Professionally Speaking, a letter to the editor by Nancy George caused much controversy. In fact, Godwin Ifedi the chair of the editorial board apologized to teachers for publishing the letter if the contents had hurt their feelings. Here's the letter:
When classroom activities are in conflict with beliefs
This is in response to the article about showing inclusiveness to the LGBTQ community in the June issue of Professionally Speaking. We know that our boards place much importance on inclusion. But we need to dig deeper and realize that this might not always be in line with teachers’ and students' religious convictions. How do we show inclusion and freedom to these teachers and students? Are they given enough freedom for their beliefs?
Being an occasional teacher, I have stepped into class-rooms and been required to follow up on projects already in progress where students were engaged in assignments like making posters in support of LGBTQ students and families. I often think to myself, do these assignments take into consideration the kids and teachers whose religious beliefs do not support these lessons? Do the parents and guardians of these students grant permission for them to do such assignments? And are all the teachers given freedom of choice when it comes to administering such assignments?
How can teachers go against their conscience and assign work that’s not in tune with their core belief? I do agree with this line in the article: “It’s incumbent upon educators to demonstrate care, trust, respect and integrity in the workplace.” But how can we demonstrate integrity when we do something which is against what we believe?
Nancy George, OCT, is an occasional teacher who teaches junior/intermediate math in the York Region District School Board.
George is doing what every good teacher should do: ask questions and try to find answers. But since a number of other teachers complained about publishing the letter in question, Ifedi felt the need to write, “In our December issue, we published a letter to the editor that hurt and distressed many members. We deeply regret the pain this caused.” What's in the letter that could cause such pain and distress? If schools intend to create true inclusive environments then they must work at making schools places where people can respectfully disagree. If the only positions that teachers, administration and students may hold are the ones that fully support those who identify as lgbtq, then we end up excluding others in the name of a fake “inclusion.” Political correctness trumps all. Nancy George is to be encouraged and admired, not professionally scolded for exercising her right to free speech. It's disturbing to think that some of her colleagues and the editors would actually consider censorship to silence her view and many who are afraid to speak up.
George rightly states: “… how can we demonstrate integrity when we do something which is against what we believe?” It seems that teachers are prepared to go in that direction and blindly follow a government ideology. Discrimination and injustice against anyone that dares question “gender identity” becomes acceptable and promoted in the name of “inclusion.” Why must all students accept that idea that boys can be girls and girls can be boys? Because the government says so. Because the College of Teachers say so. Because the activists say so. This is the dangerous road to compelled speech and an end to liberty. Professionally Speaking has the responsibility to allow its members, in a democratic society, to freely express what they think and believe. Teachers don't pay the high fees to maintain the College of Teachers only in turn to be censored. We have enough of that already from the Justin Trudeau Liberals and the tax funded MSM. The alternative to free speech is too scary to contemplate.
We end with something Voltaire's biographer Evelyn Beatrice wrote about Voltaire's thinking that is very appropriate here, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” There is no other way to protect democracy but to allow reasoned and civil dissent.
Published with permission from Everyday for Life Canada.