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Canadian News Feb 12, 2020 11:49 AM EST

Edmonton library trustee after calling CEO’s post ‘transphobic’

A former board member of the Edmonton Public Library claims that the library CEO asked her to resign after she requested an apology for “transphobic” post.

Edmonton library trustee after calling CEO’s post ‘transphobic’
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

Correction: A previous version of this story had an incorrect headline that claimed Jill Scheyk was a librarian. She was actually a library trustee.

A former board member of the Edmonton Public Library claims that the library CEO asked her to resign after she requested that the CEO apologize for posting a “transphobic” article to her Twitter acount. On Monday, Jill Scheyk gave the library her letter of resignation, according to CBC News.

A spokesperson for the Edmonton Public Library told The Post Millennial the CEO was not involved in the library board’s decision.

The Library CEO, Pilar Martinez, posted an opinion article that was published by the National Post to her Twitter account in October 2019. The article supported a librarian from the Toronto Public Library named Vickery Bowles.

Bowles defended free speech when guest speaker Meghan Murphy was set to speak at the library. Meghan Murphy is the founder of a website called Feminist Current.

Many people in the LGBTQ community wanted Murphy’s lecture to be canceled because they did not agree with her views. The library stuck with their initial decision and allowed Murphy to speak because the appearance did not go against their policy.

Murphy’s speech was held in October and hundreds of people showed up to protest the event.

When Scheyk saw the article posted on Martinez’s personal Twitter account, she emailed Martinez asking her to make an apology for the post.

“I had written an email privately to Pilar [Martinez] and the rest of the board members, you know, kind of framing this as, ‘I’m sure you didn’t intend it this way but this is actually some really transphobic language, and I think this is pretty offensive to people in the community and I think we really owe them an apology,'” Scheyk told CBC News.

She also learned about a blog post that Martinez made in support of free speech. The post was added to the Edmonton Public Library website on Nov. 1.

“Controversial or even offensive speech does not equal hate speech,” said Martinez in her post. “Censorship is a double-edged sword — while it may support your personal views today, it may be used to censor your views tomorrow.”

Scheyk, who joined the EPL board in May of 2015, disagreed with the post. She then made her own post on Twitter encouraging members of the public to engage future board meetings.

“I just kind of tweeted without really referencing the issue because I didn’t want to stir any additional reaction,” said Scheyk. “Just to say, ‘You know, if you have feelings about what we’re doing here at the library, our board meetings are open to the public.’”

The board sent a letter to Scheyk on Nov. 12 informing her that she had breached the EPL’s code of conduct. The letter noted that if Scheyk wasn’t able to meet the board’s expectations “it may be that the duty of the trustee is to resign.”

The letter also said that her behaviour “provided a catalyst for anonymous and extremely disrespectful input towards our CEO and EPL in general.”

“Your email to the CEO and copied to the board on Oct. 31, 2019, encouraging an apology from our CEO to particular community members was without awareness or input from the board.”

Scheyk later made the decision to hand her resignation into the library.

The chair of the library’s board of trustees, Fern Snart stated in an email that the board would not be making specific comments on the situation because Scheyk’s resignation is an internal matter.

“I can assure you that the EPL board of trustees is focused on acting in the best interest of Edmontonians and the library, and we welcome diverse views and healthy debate around the board table–in fact, it is what makes EPL great.”

On Tuesday, Scheyk said, “It was good to finally be able to voice my concerns out loud. You’re under a gag order as a trustee or employee. I actually feel like I have more impact now than I could have as a trustee.”

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