Toronto District School Board trustee Sam Sotiropoulos is once again defending a recent tweet about transgender people.
Meantime, the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT) sent a letter of complaint to the school board, calling for an investigation into the trustee’s tweet on transgender people and comments he later made in a Global News interview.
“At best they were insulting at worst discriminatory,” ETT President John Smith said of the trustee’s words. In a letter of complaint to the board he wrote the trustee’s comments “are offensive and possibly a violation of the TDSB Human Rights Policy.”
The ETT is calling for an investigation by the board.
“We had a lot of concern expressed by our members through emails and letters on comments the trustee made by Twitter and the interview on TV, concerns he had violated human rights policies and equity policies of the TDSB which covers all the staff of the TDSB,” Smith said. “They felt that as a leader, a trustee of the TDSB, he should be upholding and promoting those policies.”
Board Chair Mari Rutka wouldn’t comment on whether there would be an investigation.
She said because it is a private matter she also couldn’t reveal how many complaints they have received or whether the board would consider taking any kind of action.
In certain cases, school boards can censure trustees or even ban them from certain meetings or committees.
Sotiroploulos’s tweet that started it all reads: “Until I see scientific proof that transgenderism exists and is not simply a mental illness, I reserve the right not to believe in it.”
For his part, Sotiropoulos said it comes back to anti-bullying posters about gender identity put up in schools about three or four years ago. He claims that several hundred parents have come to him concerned there’s too much emphasis on an issue that only confuses their kids.
“They bring the confusion home and often what happens is this confusion creates turmoil in the home for one reason or another.” he said. “They believe its almost a promotion of a certain type of, for a lack of a better term, lifestyle.”
Asked whether he believed being a transgender person is a lifestyle or a mental illness, he reasserted his right to reserve his opinion until he does more research.
Sotiropoulos said he has done a lot of work learning more about transgender people since the Global News interview a week ago, but said he still needs more information before coming to any conclusions.
He emphasized he is against bullying of any kind, but feels there needed to be more education about bullying for reasons other than gender identity and sexual orientation.
He stood his ground in the face of complaints, saying: “I will not be bullied by the media. I will not be bullied by the unions. I will not be bullied on this matter.”
He promised he would get back to Global News once he has enough information to form an opinion on transgender people.