Ontario family files human rights complaint after six-year-old girl upset by gender theory in school
The following story has its source in an application filed before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by Jason and Pamela Buffone, on behalf of their daughter “N,” against the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board for discrimination on the basis of gender and gender identity in contravention of the Human Rights Code.
In January of 2018, in a Grade One class at Devonshire Community Public School, part of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board network, six-year-old N watched a YouTube video as part of her teacher’s lesson plan on gender.
N is the kind of child, her mother Pamela told me in a telephone interview, that adores school—or did until the particular morning that prompted this column. The video was entitled, “He, She and They?!?—Gender: Queer Kid Stuff #2.” The video contained statements such as, “some people aren’t boys or girls,” and that there are people who do not “feel like a ‘she’ or a ‘he,’” and therefore might not have a gender. The young teacher, whom I will refer to by her initials, JB, continued to teach gender theory throughout the semester. According to N’s feedback to her mother, JB told the children that “there is no such thing as girls and boys,” and “girls are not real and boys are not real.”
By mid-March, N’s parents could see the lessons were having an impact on their daughter, as she began spontaneously and repeatedly asking them why her identity as a girl was “not real.” She asked if she could “go to a doctor” about the fact that she was a girl. She said she was “not sure if she wanted to be a mommy.” (Ms Buffone explained to N that grown-up women had a choice, but was concerned that the subject was coming up in Grade One gender lessons.)
The Buffones were naturally alarmed by their daughter’s persisting signs of confusion, as she had never previously shown a single sign of discontent regarding her biological reality. Ms Buffone therefore met with JB in March to discuss the impact of the gender discussions on her daughter.
JB, they could see, was very committed to the teaching of gender fluidity as a reflection of “a change within society.” She told Ms Buffone that gender fluidity was the School Board policy, that some children are struggling with the idea that gender is binary and confirmed that the topic of sex change had come up for discussion. She did not appear unduly concerned about N’s personal distress, and did nothing to affirm N’s female identity.
The Buffones then contacted the school principal, Julie Derbyshire.
In a telephone call, Ms Buffone says, Ms Derbyshire explained that JB had initiated the lessons to accommodate a child in the class who had expressed interest in self-expression as the opposite sex. (There was in fact a child exhibiting symptoms of gender dysphoria in Grade One of that school, who was being teased on that account. But, according to Ms Buffone, as she later learned, the parents of the child did not want the issue to be addressed by lessons on gender; they merely wanted the other children to be taught to act respectfully and not to bully their child.) Ms Derbyshire did not offer to consult with the school’s “gender specialist” about affirmation of non-questioning students like N.
Determined to elicit a response that addressed the issue substantively, the Buffones pressed on, eventually meeting with the Superintendent of the School Board and the Curriculum Superintendent. According to the complaint, “The School Board did not agree to communicate with parents when sensitive discussions took place, nor did they agree to issue any directive or take corrective action in order to ensure that children of female gender identity were positively affirmed.”
At this point, feeling stonewalled at every step of the hierarchical ladder from bottom to top, the Buffones made the decision to enrol N at another school where, Ms Buffone tells me, she is doing well and where, she has told her family, she is happy she will not have a teacher who says that “girls are not real.” Last October, N reportedly told her mother, “This table is real, and this fan is real, and even if the fan was made out of cardboard, it’s still real.”
Stories related to gender identity in childhood usually have for their protagonist a child who is distressed over the disparity between her or his biological reality and their perceived gender. The scenario often presents educators as enlightened, affirming allies of the child, while the parents, behind the times, so to speak, resist affirmation and cause the child further anxiety. In these cases the injustice to the child seems pretty clear cut to many rights-attuned Canadians. The child’s right to express his or her gender identity trumps the parents’ right to oppose it.
Here we have the opposite case. N’s gender identity is—or was—seamless comfort in her biological skin. She had never questioned that comfort. Suddenly she was told to believe that at any moment, what she believes to be real—that she is a girl—may not be true. How very frightening that thought must be to a child who is not old enough to grasp the abstract concept of gender fluidity. Her parents are the allies here, and her educational environment is where she fails to find affirmation. Why could she not be accommodated as well as the questioning child? Why did this situation have to end up at a human rights tribunal?
It wasn’t, after all, an either-or choice, and a little compromise on the part of JB and her superiors would easily have defused the situation, and alleviated the Buffones’ concern. Why couldn’t JB have explained that discomfort with one’s gender identity does occur, but rarely (fact); that it is often a passing phase (fact); that non-conforming dress and play preferences in childhood are normal and only infrequently indicative of deep or lasting dissatisfaction with one’s biological sex (fact); that most children stop having these doubts when they are teenagers (fact); most important, that almost all children are perfectly happy being exactly what they are (fact) and those children should not worry that they are not “real” boys or girls. Where was the difficulty in saying these things? N would have been reassured, and the one child in the class who was experiencing gender confusion would not have been adversely affected.
The Buffones’ HRTO application concludes that JB “subjected N to ongoing discrimination on the basis of gender and gender identity, by a series of lessons that denied the existence of the female gender and biological sex and undermined the value of identifying as a female.”; ii) “The Principal and School Board perpetuated and reinforced the discrimination that N experienced in her Grade One classroom, as neither Ms. Derbyshire nor any school board official took any corrective action to remedy it.”
Their requested remedy is that the Tribunal order the Board i) to ensure that classroom instruction “not devalue, deny, or undermine in any way the female gender identity”; ii) to mandate teachers to “inform parents when lessons on gender identity will take place or have taken place, including the teaching objectives and the materials that will be or have been used for such lessons”; and iii) to pay the Buffones $5,000.00 in general damages “to compensate for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect caused by the discrimination.”
The School Board’s lawyer responded to the application with a request that the application be dismissed “on the basis that the Application has no reasonable prospect for success,” denying the allegations and promising to provide a “fulsome Response should the Tribunal not dismiss this matter by way of Summary Hearing.”
Citing another complaint against the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the response pointed to the Tribunal’s finding that the Tribunal did “not have the power to deal with general allegations of unfairness,” and that the facts, even if true, “do not engage any prohibit (sic) ground of discrimination as set out in the [Human Rights] Code.” Also noted was the fact that teachers’ right to teach gender identity is endorsed by the Minister of Education, and that “[t]he age-appropriateness of a classroom discussion does not engage a Code-protected prohibited ground.” In short, even if N was adversely affected by the teacher’s lessons, she has no grounds for redress according to the Human Rights Code.
How will this play out?
The School Board is taking a “letter of the law” approach. They are basically stipulating that the Buffones’ account of N’s experience is factual, but irrelevant. In other words, they don’t deny the lessons had an adverse effect on the child’s psychological well-being. They are simply saying that whether or not she has been adversely affected is not, legally speaking, grounds for a human rights complaint.
But the Ontario Human Rights Commission defines “discrimination” pretty broadly. In our interview Ms Buffone told me: “The Ontario Human rights Code states that a poisoned environment is a form of discrimination. We’re going to provide evidence that the manner in which [JB] was teaching the concept of gender identity resulted in a poisoned environment. The principal further exacerbated the situation in that the only option provided to us was to remove our daughter from the classroom for these lessons, which is exclusionary treatment.”
Will this be as persuasive an argument for the HRTO as it seems to me?
“This is an important case,” says Ms Buffone. “Our government seems to have given teachers carte blanche in terms of how they teach this concept [of gender identity]. If this is an example of how it can be taught, I think it’s in the public interest for the HRTO to weigh in on it. Teachers are providing a public service and have a duty of care to all of their students, just as the HRTO has a responsibility to all of Ontarians. I think this case is a good example of why we need to set ideology aside when dealing with human rights.”
If the Buffones win their case, it will set a precedent that may have far-reaching consequences for the teaching of gender issues in Ontario’s elementary schools. The HRTO will be very conscious of the potential fallout from their decision. For that reason, the cynic in me fears the dice are loaded against the Buffones. I very much hope to be proven wrong.
Rosemary Barton has finally been demoted by the CBC after the public broadcaster announced last week that it was giving up on the disjointed and ratings-killing four-anchor format for its flagship show.
CBC’s The National was revamped a couple years ago when Peter Mansbridge retired, and it has been losing its small viewership ever since, losing nearly 25 percent (about 124,000 viewers abandoning the program) by the summer of last year, despite the CBC spending a lot in promotional ads to sell Canadians on the new anchors and format. As the viewership has declined, so too has the CBC’s ad revenue.
Rosemary Barton has been scrutinized many times in the past for having bias as a reporter. The Post Millennial takes a look back at the eight times (there are far more examples) Barton showed bias for the Liberals while feigning to be a nonpartisan journalist above reproach.
1. Coming to Justin Trudeau’s defence
In a conversation with colleague Andrew Nichols about the similarities of the personal beliefs on abortion between Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, Barton was quick to dismiss the fact that Trudeau said he was personally against abortion as well.
2. “So do deficits even matter these days? I don’t think so”
Trudeau and the Liberal government have come under fire for their spending and bringing the nation deeper and deeper into debt with massive deficits racking up tens of billions in red ink. While anchoring the nightly news, Barton gave her “objective” opinion that deficits aren’t really a thing Canadians should worry their pretty little heads about.
3. SNC-Lavalin scandal was so early 2019
During the fall 2019 election Rosemary Barton steered an on-air conversation away from the SNC-Lavalin scandal, suggesting that they had already covered it so much, essentially implying it was beating a dead horse.
She also dismissed the RCMP investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s involvement in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, in what could possibly be deemed attempted obstruction of justice, suggesting the RCMP were just “asking a few questions”.
4. Duffy expense scandal was totally Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s fault and deserved to be covered extensively for years
Back before Rosemary Barton was promoted to being the host of CBC’s Power and Politics, which she hosted for a few years before being promoted yet again to anchor The National, she and her fellow Liberal partisan, Katie Simpson, were riveted by Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s expense scandal, both breathlessly reporting from the trial, in which Duffy was found innocent of all charges. But they did their best to try to pin it on Harper in the lead-up to 2015 election, despite the initial scandal breaking in 2012. One would imagine the expense scandal was quite minor in comparison to a sitting PM potentially corrupting the justice system, but not for Barton.
Never mind that Harper’s chief of staff paid the money back, and then resigned when the media found out, it was far more scandalous than the SNC-Lavalin affair!
5. Trudeau’s poor attendance record at Parliament isn’t a big deal “because democracy and stuff”
Rosemary Barton routinely downplays the flaws of PM Justin Trudeau and the Liberals not only on air, but via Twitter. When Trudeau decided campaigning for the Liberal Party of Canada in a by-election was more important than being in Ottawa governing the country she gave her biased “hot take” that by-elections are important.
It’s hard to believe she’d be so charitable to Harper or Andrew Scheer.
6. “It’s literally how the parliamentary system works”
When polls weren’t looking all that rosy for Justin Trudeau, Rosemary Barton claimed that Trudeau would be able to stay on as PM in a minority situation even if the Liberals won less seats than the Conservatives, something that would be essentially unprecedented in Canadian federal Parliament.
“It’s literally how the parliamentary system works,” Barton incorrectly expounded on Twitter.
7. Fan girl selfie and stroll
These ones speak for themselves.
8. Suing the Conservative Party of Canada during the 2019 election
For some reason the CBC thought it was a good idea to sue the Conservative Party of Canada for using clips of the public broadcaster’s footage in an attack ad. Despite all parties doing this, and it being something the CBC itself does regularly (in what is totally legal and called fair dealing), the CBC pulled the trigger on suing the CPC, which ended up spectacularly backfiring.
To top it all off, Rosemary Barton and another CBC journalist were named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, until the CBC eventually had the sense to remove them from the lawsuit. Barton never definitively cleared the air on whether she agreed to be a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
However, during the 2015 election, Peter Mansbridge in a documented email exchange had CBC execs take legal action against the CPC for using a clip of Justin Trudeau giving a very poor answer about the Boston Marathon terrorists. Mansbridge was Barton’s mentor, is it too far-fetched to believe she took a page out of his Liberal partisan playbook?
The CBC, being shamelessly biased, decided it was appropriate to keep Barton on The National, as a debate moderator, and the lead anchor for the election-night coverage despite this very glaring conflict of interest coming to light.
Yet, Rosemary Barton audaciously claims she can’t be partisan, it’s impossible. In an interview with Duncan McCue for CBC’s Cross Country Checkup she was asked about how many people feel she has a bias with her reporting she replied, “I don’t mind criticism of my work. We are the public broadcaster… I think it’s important to hold me to account,” she said. “That said, I really don’t have a horse in the race. I don’t have a partisan bone in my body. It’s not the way I was raised; it’s not who I am.”
With the above examples it’s rather hard to believe that’s not who she is.
You’re allowed to have a personal bias, it’s impossible not to, you just shouldn’t bring it into your work if you’re the lead anchor of the public broadcaster’s flagship news show and you are going to claim you’re fair to all political parties.
Barton being moved to CBC’s chief political correspondent is a far better fit, especially now that the public broadcaster irrevocably branded itself Liberal during the 2019 election cycle.
Sometimes Barton does tell it like it is.
On Saturday, John Hopkins Hospital trauma surgeon Joseph Sakran posted to his Twitter alleging he had received a menacing “death threat” due to his gun-control activism.
The menacing threat, reading “The End is Near…” below a cartoon hand holding a gun, was allegedly found on Dr. Sakran’s car windshield. He posted two photos on Jan. 25 on Twitter. One shows the alleged threat below the wiper blade and one of Sakran holding it in his home.
Dr. Sakran went on to create an eight-post thread detailing his life history experiencing a gun-related injury, and notes his history of advocacy against gun violence. He also tagged the Twitter handles of gun control activist groups Moms Demand Action, Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook Promise, and others.
He did not mention whether he reported the alleged death threat to the police in Fairfax County, Va.
Despite the thread going viral, gaining over 6,000 likes at the time of this article’s writing, some Twitter users observed discrepancies in Dr. Sakran’s allegation.
Visible in the reflection of the windshield appears to be the surrounding of a residential garage, which could indicate Dr. Sakran’s vehicle may have been parked indoors at the time the alleged death threat was discovered.
However, Dr. Sakran was interviewed by the Baltimore Sun where he asserts that he found it on his car “on or before” January 20 as he “made his way into work.” He says he took the paper from his windshield and placed it inside of his car, not believing it to be anything more than a flyer, and did not inspect it until “days later” while cleaning out the vehicle.
The interview was seemingly meant to offer clarity, but instead seemingly confirms that Dr. Sakran staged the death threat on his windshield in order to take a photo for Twitter.
Additionally, another user pointed out that the “after” photo of the note taken inside his home appears to have fewer creases and blemishes than the note photographed on his windshield.
Additional questions were raised about the tracing of the image to the device it was printed from. According to Snopes, a “majority” of colour printers are designed with the ability to produce a secret metadata called a Machine Identification Code embedded in all printed pages. The code enables for easier tracing of the source device a page was printed through.
However, according to publicly-available Fairfax police report records, Dr. Sakran does not appear to have filed any police report over the last week.
The Post Millennial reached out to Dr. Sakran for comment, but has not heard back in time for publication. This is an ongoing story and may be updated with additional details.
The U.S. embassy in Baghdad has been struck by three missiles of five shot at the building, accrdong to AFP News Agency.
A security source confirmed the attack.
“Senior #US Defence official confirm that Katyusha rocket hit the #Embassy dining facility tonight. Decline comment on injuries but say there were no deaths. First time the embassy has actually been hit in a very long time,” said BBC journalist Nafiseh Kohnavard.
An American official told CNN that the dining facility was hit and early reports are saying their was minor damage.
It’s unclear who is behind the attack at this time and if there were any injuries.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Kobe’s daughter Gianna, nicknamed GiGi, was a rising basketball star in her own right, and they were reportedly on their way to Mamba Academy for basketball practice.
GiGi was 13.
Kobe and his daughter were seen recently attending several Lakers basketball games together to watch LeBron James, who recently surpassed Bryant on the all-time scoring list.
Tributes have been pouring in for NBA super star and his daughter.