Ontario teacher vindicated after judge rules criticizing trans books for kids does not violate Human Rights Code

"What happened here should not happen in a democratic society," Ontario Superior Court Justice James Ramsay said.

Retired Waterloo, Ont. teacher and school board member Carolyn Burjoski is celebrating a huge legal victory against the Waterloo Region District School Board. After Burjoski attended a school board meeting on Jan. 17, 2022 to object to written material available to children at her school, then-board chairman Scott Piatkowski cut off her presentation and had Burjoski thrown out. 

After Piatkowski dismissed Burjoski as transphobic and said she “questioned the right to exist” of trans people the teacher sued the board and its chair, a suit they subsequently tried to have dismissed.

But Ontario Superior Court Justice James Ramsay rejected that option and emphatically declared that Burjoski’s rights to freedom of speech and expression had been flagrantly violated, allowing her defamation suit to proceed.

“What happened here should not happen in a democratic society,” Ramsay said Friday.

“The Human Rights Code does not prohibit public discussion of issues related to transgenderism or minors and transgenderism. It does not prohibit public discussion of anything.”

The judge also ordered the school board to compensate the retired teacher for the $30,000 she has spent on court fees to defend herself. 

Burjoski was jubilant about the legal win.

“Major win in my legal battle with the @wrdsb! Justice Ramsay's ruling affirms our right to free expression. It's a clear message: Human Rights Codes must not be weaponized, and defamation will not be tolerated,” Burjoski posted on X Monday. 

Piatkowski also said that Burjoski was “not promoting healthy debate” at the meeting after she questioned both the appropriateness and scientific basis of several books available to children from kindergarten to Grade 6 in schools throughout Ontario.

She said the material grossly simplifies the emotional and physical trauma resulting from so-called “medical transitioning” that means taking mood-altering testosterone or estrogen and can lead to chemical castration or the surgical amputation of sex organs. 

Burjoski specifically cited a book called The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey where a biological female transitioning to a male expresses glee over ingesting testosterone and describes the likelihood of never being able to have children as “cool.”

Ramsay had more to say about the actions of the school board, according to the National Post.

“The chairman of the board acted with malice or at least, with a reckless disregard for the truth. He had made an embarrassingly erroneous and arbitrary decision to silence a legitimate expression of opinion and he was widely criticized for it. It is not a stretch to infer that, realizing that, he tried to justify himself with the public by assassinating the plaintiff’s character.”

The judge doubted that Piatkowski would be able to prove his assertions. 

“I find it regrettable that the defendant who is trying to shut down debate is an arm of the government. Regard for the historical and present plight of the transgendered … does not negate section 2(b) of the charter,” Ramsay said.
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