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Canada: ‘You don’t belong here’ teacher lambastes Muslim student for avoiding Pride Month

30th Jun 2023
Canada: ‘You don’t belong here’ teacher lambastes Muslim student for avoiding Pride Month

Elham Asaad Buaras

An audio clip of a teacher in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, accusing a Muslim student of not belonging in Canada for skipping his school’s Pride celebrations has gone viral earlier this month.

“You are out to lunch if you think it’s acceptable to not show up because … there are Pride activities going on at school,” says the unnamed Londonderry School teacher in the two-minute recording posted online on June 5.

The teacher begins her dressing-down by saying there was no complaint from the non-Islamic student body when Ramadan was recently acknowledged in the school.

“It goes two ways!” she says. “If you want to be respected for who you are, if you don’t want to suffer prejudice for your religion, your colour of skin, your whatever, then you better give it back to people who are different than you.”

The teacher then references the recent passage of a bill in Uganda that prescribes capital punishment for what it deems “aggravated homosexuality”; homosexual acts committed against children or the disabled.
Homosexual acts, already illegal in Uganda, are now punishable by life in prison.

“In Uganda, if they think you’re gay, they will execute you. If you believe that kind of thing, then you don’t belong here, because that is what Canada believes,” says the teacher. “We believe in freedom, we believe that people can marry whomever they want, that is in the law, and if you don’t think that should be the law, you can’t be Canadian… You don’t belong here, and I mean it.”

The audio was posted on Twitter by US-based Islamic scholar, Hamzah wald Maqbul who confirmed it had been forwarded to him by “multiple sources”.

In a statement to the National Post, Edmonton Public Schools confirmed the authenticity of the recording, and said it is “taking steps to address the situation”.

In a more detailed note sent to parents, Londonderry Principal, Ed Charpentier, wrote, “I want to emphasize that the views expressed by the teacher do not reflect the values of acceptance, inclusion and belonging that are so strong at Londonderry School.”

It’s not clear which Pride events were scheduled at Londonderry, a junior high in north Edmonton, but the school board does typically set aside the first week of June as Pride Week. “Join us in celebrating schools that are welcoming, inclusive and safe — because all students belong here,” reads an official district announcement.

This year, Canadian Muslim communities have already reacted to Pride celebrations in schools, most notably with a series of mass absences at London, Ontario schools on May 17, when schools stated they would observe International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

Three months earlier, when London schools celebrated Rainbow Day, a similar thing occurred.

The London Council of Imams (LCI) said parents “should use their discretion” as to whether to keep their children home on select days.

But the LCI did argue that “as a secular school board, public schools should not be taking positions to promote a certain set of values and beliefs over or at the expense of others,” and announced a series of “faith-based clarifications on sexuality and gender issues”.

Pride festivities were essentially non-existent in the Canadian educational system just five years ago, and even the ultra-progressive Toronto District School Board did not authorise the hoisting of the rainbow flag on school premises until 2018.

However, Pride-themed events are now commonplace in almost every school district in Canada. One particularly extravagant celebration in St. John’s, Newfoundland, drew international attention on social media: primary school students were shown entering through a rainbow arch backed by teachers waving Pride flags and blasting dance music. A visiting drag performer then appeared during a school assembly.

Education ministers in both British Columbia and Ontario sent out formal Pride Month notifications, reminding staff that such festivities are required and that failing to do so might result in a breach of the Canadian Human Rights Code.

(Photo: creative commons)

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