‘You must always be on your period’: B.C. teacher suspended for insensitive comments

File photo. Global News

A Kelowna teacher who sniped “you must always be on your period” to one student and erroneously claimed another was making lewd gestures has been reprimanded by the BC Commissioner for Teacher Regulation.

Justin Enns, a Kelowna high school teacher, ran afoul of the Central Okanagan Public Schools district in the fall of 2021 with comments made to a Grade 10 math student, according to a Consent Resolution Agreement published online this week.

According to the agreement, one day, when it became hot in the math class,  a student removed one of two shirts they were wearing.

The bottom shirt shifted and its seam ran down their side, and they tried to make an adjustment.

As they did, Enns thought they were “making inappropriate sexualized gestures,” so he called them to his desk and said they had to put their shirt back on.

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The student, according to the agreement, “felt uncomfortable and embarrassed” and left the classroom.

A second student saw what had happened and went to see the first student, but Enns instead asked them to bring the student back to discuss the matter.

He then told the second student that the one who left the classroom had been grabbing their breasts and proceeded to make gestures mimicking that action.

A third student got in the mix, and when all three were in front of Enns, he again demonstrated what he viewed as the student’s “breast cupping.”

In the same timeframe, Enns said he was concerned with the amount of time and the frequency two students were using the bathroom.

On one occasion Enns told the student they couldn’t go, but the student said they had to, due to their period.

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In response, Enns said, “You must always be on your period.”

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Finally, the third issue had to do with Enns retweeting two posts he found online.

“The first was about a 60 Minutes segment which was described as ‘acknowledging the role of peer influence and social media in encouraging trans identification in teens, the rising population of detransitioners, and a medical system that affirms self-diagnoses of gender dysphoria in place of adequate oversight.'”

The second retweet related to a drag queen who led  Drag Queen Story Hour for children and was arrested for possession of child pornography. The original tweet included this sentence: “if only there would have been some warning signs, we could’ve stopped this earlier.”

“The posts caught the attention of a parent of a student at the school who felt that the posts were transphobic in nature,” the commissioner for teachers said in the decision.

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“This parent contacted school administrators out of concern that the retweets reflected Enns’ personal views towards the (transgender) community.”

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On April 7, 2022, the district met with Enns to discuss the topic of social media, reminding Enns that he should always consider that parents and students may be viewing his Twitter posts and drawing conclusions about his own beliefs.

The tweets, despite being cause for a conversation, were not ultimately disciplined in that instance.

For failing to create a positive learning environment for students, not treating them with “respect and dignity” and retweeting Twitter posts that raised questions about his ability to treat people equitably, the commissioner for teacher regulation suspended Enns’ teaching certificate for five days.

He was also ordered to take some programming on reinforcing respectful boundaries.

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