WARNING: This story contains images that may be disturbing.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association is calling for a Red Deer Catholic school trustee to resign or face sanction after a “hateful post” on social media.
Last week, a story shared online from a social media account belonging to Monique LaGrange included an old black-and-white photo of smiling children leaning out a window waving Nazi flags with the swastikas on them.
A more modern photo directly beneath it shows young children in a classroom holding up homemade Pride rainbow flags.
The caption reads: “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”
The post was later deleted.
On Wednesday, ATA president Jason Schilling released a statement.
“Too much time has passed since this hateful post by Trustee LaGrange surfaced, and we still do not have any public statement from the trustee. LaGrange’s inaction leaves us to conclude that the trustee has no understanding of, or remorse for, the harm she has caused,” he wrote.
“LaGrange’s Facebook post was vile and repugnant.
“Not only does it serve to undermine the atrocities of the Nazi regime, but it also acts as a form of oppression to entice further hatred toward members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
“Monique LaGrange’s Facebook post is hate speech,” Schilling said.
“Trusteeship, by definition, requires behaviour that engenders trust. LaGrange can no longer be trusted to act in a manner that preserves the safety, well-being and dignity of the students of Red Deer Catholic. She has no choice but to resign.
“Her actions are a clear violation of sections 33 and 34 of the Education Act, which require school boards to ensure that all students and staff are provided a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging. LaGrange’s offensive post is a rejection of this responsibility and an assault on students and teachers and the entire school community,” the statement continued.
“If Trustee LaGrange does not resign, then the board of Red Deer Catholic must use its powers within the trustee code of conduct policy and section 33 of the Education Act to censure LaGrange and remove her from all board committees and appointments. If the board fails to take appropriate action to address LaGrange’s inappropriate conduct, then the education minister should launch a formal review.
“Attacks on sexual and gender diverse students and school staff are increasing to exceptional and troubling levels. All of us are obligated to take action and speak out to protect the physical safety and mental well-being of those under threat.
“Swift, decisive and highly visible action to combat this hatred is the only way forward,” Schilling said.
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On Friday, Alberta Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said he was “beyond disappointed to see this and categorically condemn these actions.”
He said he was “following up with the chair of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board to discuss this incident.”
In a statement to Global News on Friday, the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) Board of Trustees said the story shared by Trustee Monique LaGrange “does not align with the principles and values that guide our division, and Trustee LaGrange does not speak on behalf of the board.
“In response to learning about this matter, we immediately engaged our Trustee Code of Conduct,” the statement continued. “According to the code, issues can be handled through a conciliatory approach if all parties are agreeable. In this instance, Trustee LaGrange removed the social media post from her Facebook page as requested by the board.”
Global News reached out to Monique LaGrange for comment last Friday but did not hear back. Global News has reached out to LaGrange again Wednesday. This article will be updated if/when we receive a response.
Honouring International Holocaust Remembrance Day
In a social media message on Wednesday, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Canadian human rights and social advocacy organization, issued a statement on the post.
“Comparing the LGBTQ+ community to the Nazi regime, especially considering the Nazis’ persecution of the minority group, is abhorrent and a form of Holocaust distortion.
Kristopher Wells, Canada research chair for the public understanding of sexual and gender minority youth and associate professor at MacEwan University, said Friday he was disgusted by the post.
“It’s even worse for it to come from a person in a position of leadership, as an elected official, and somebody who is working to protect and support children in our school system.
“It’s unconscionable and I believe that not only should this trustee immediately resign, the RCMP should be investigating it as a hate incident, and I would call on the minister of education to also launch an investigation,” Wells said.
“We can’t have 2SLGBTQ children who attend our school system wondering if they’re in a safe environment or not.”
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More to come.
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