Ontario Human Rights Tribunal rules that 6-year-old was not discriminated against by teacher saying 'there’s no such thing as boys and girls'

The incidents which led to this case occurred in 2018, when N.B’s teacher introduced her Grade 1 class to the concept of gender identities. She was prompted to do so because she had witnessed bullying and teasing of a gender-nonconforming student.

Mia Ashton Montreal QC
 An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that a six-year-old girl was not discriminated against when her teacher told her “there’s no such thing as boys and girls.”

The complaint was brought before the Ontario Human Rights Commission in March this year by the girl’s mother Pamela Buffone, who felt the statement, as well as several other lessons on the topic of gender, undermined her daughter’s sense of self as a girl and a member of the female sex.

But adjudicator Eva Nicholls dismissed the application, finding that there was no direct evidence that the girl, referred to as N.B, was harmed by the lessons.

“I find that N.B.’s Code protected rights were not breached by the respondent’s actions. She did not face the alleged discrimination, i.e., adverse impact, on the grounds of sex and gender identity.”

The incidents which led to this case occurred in 2018, when N.B’s teacher introduced her Grade 1 class to the concept of gender identities. She was prompted to do so because she had witnessed bullying and teasing of a gender-nonconforming student.

In a series of lessons which fall outside the official Grade 1 curriculum but are approved by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) as teachable moments, she read the book My Princess Boy, showed a video about pronouns called HE, SHE, and THEY, and made the statement: “There’s no such thing as boys and girls”. 

With regards to this statement, she testified that she had misspoken and later apologized to the class; however, it transpired during the tribunal that this apology took the form of drawing a gender spectrum on the whiteboard, with a boy at one end and a girl at the other, and all the other possibilities in between. 

“A girl can go to school knowing she’s a girl," Buffone told The Post Millennial, expressing disappointment in the decision, "and come home unsure of who she is because schools are meddling with children’s identities by completely disregarding biological reality as a relevant and important personal characteristic - now with the full support of the HRTO.”

Buffone’s lawyer, Lisa Bildy said she was disappointed but not surprised by the decision. “Quite frankly, there is an irreconcilable clash of worldviews in our society right now, and that is reflected in the ruling.”

“Respecting the inherent human dignity of gender-diverse people, through inclusion and acceptance, is a very different goal than inculcating all children into thinking that their sex is a fiction or that they must have a gender identity," Bildy said.

“Teachers aren't equipped or licensed to manage or even understand the psychological implications of messing around with identity formation in children.”

Buffone also says that the tribunal misrepresented the public interest remedy they were seeking, by suggesting that they were asking “that the school board be directed to avoid the issue of gender fluidity”. 

In a piece published on her blog Canadian Gender Report, she wrote:

“Our hearing presented the HRTO with an opportunity to reflect on the harmful effects that gender identity theory can have on children. Instead, their characterization of our proposed public interest remedy reveals that they have no interest in helping schools ensure they adopt a rational approach to gender that ensures a safe and inclusive environment for all.”

“The intent of the guardrails is not to avoid the issue of gender fluidity, but ensure that it is discussed factually, at an age appropriate level and without reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes or suggesting that one’s sex is a fiction.”

Buffone feels that the Ontario Human Rights Commission has used their “case to double-down on their support for gender identity" as demonstrated by the statement in the ruling:

“Everyone has a gender identity. It is not a matter of 'requiring to have one.' But the protections of the Code do not apply in the same way to all gender identities. The focus on providing protection on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression under the Code has arisen from the discrimination that individuals who are not cis-gender have faced in their lives. Persons whose birth assigned sex does not match their lived gender identity and gender expression have faced discrimination in many social areas.”

"Therefore, while each person has a gender identity, the protections of the Code for cis-gendered persons is not the same as for transgendered individuals."

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