Teacher told 'You will be shot!' over anti-homophobia plan
Published Thursday, November 3, 2011 5:30PM PDT
A teacher in Burnaby, B.C. has become the target of a death threat from an anonymous opponent of the local school board's policy combating homophobia and bullying.
The Burnaby Teachers' Association says the teacher received a typewritten letter decorated with bloody knives in June demanding the immediate withdrawal of policy 5.45, which is meant to prevent bullying of gay and transgendered students.
"You want to destroy our children! You are our enemy! You will be shot!" the letter reads.
James Sanyshyn, vice president of the teachers' association, said he was disturbed by the note, which has been passed on to the RCMP for investigation.
"It's obviously meant to threaten and menace individuals from trying to talk about LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer] issues in the school system," he told CTV News.
"You have to think, what's the mentality of the person who sent it?... They didn't want to put their name to it. It's a cowardly act."
The letter was received just as trustees approved the policy in June.
The plan suggests that, "Teachers shall be encouraged to include age appropriate LGBTQ+ issues into curriculum ... to help students acquire the skills and knowledge to understand the impacts of homophobia and transphobia upon society."
It also suggests schools nominate a staff person to provide support to LGBTQ students and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to homophobic speech and behaviour.
The broadly-worded policy has been a lightning rod for protest since a draft was first introduced at a trustee meeting earlier this year.
A group of activists calling themselves The Parents' Voice picketed school board meetings addressing the policy, and accused trustees of harbouring a "hidden political agenda."
In a press release in June, the group claimed that the policy is a result of "left-wing social engineering led by gay activists" that discriminates against children who do not identify as LGBTQ.
The Burnaby Parents' Voice has now morphed into a political party and is running five candidates in the upcoming school board election.
Candidate Helen Ward says the party had nothing to do with the threatening letter.
"The letter does not even mention Burnaby Parents' Choice. It looks like it's written by a child," she said.
The party is offering a $2,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.
"It's a very serious threat. Burnaby Parents' Voice is opposed to any kind of threat, any kind of bullying," Ward said.
She says she wonders why the teachers' association is talking about the letter now, more than four months after it was received but just weeks before the Nov. 19 school board election.
"It's obviously a political tactic," she said.
With files from CTV British Columbia's St. John Alexander