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Public school board chair responds after teacher removed from meeting for 'transphobic comments'

Stating 'it was necessary,' despite having received hate messages for the move
Jan. 17, 2022 WRDSB meeting / from WRDSB YouTube

Monday's local public school board meeting was a lot more dramatic than usual, after a teacher was removed for making comments considered transphobic. 

"It was unfortunate that it was necessary, but it was necessary," Waterloo Region District School Board Chair Scott Piatkowski told the Mike Farwell Show on CityNews 570 on Wednesday.

Teacher Carolyn Burjoski was a delegation to the board and had been presenting concern that some books available in school libraries are inappropriate for children. 

When talking about a book that follows a character transitioning from female to male, Burjoski said, "This book makes very serious interventions seem like an easy cure for emotional and social distress."

She also said, "Some of the books make it seem simple, even cool, to take puberty blockers and opposite sex hormones."

Piatkowski is emphasizing that it was the right decision to remove the teacher from the meeting.

He said Burjoski violated policy that requires delegates to be respectful and courteous during meetings, and her comments could cause transgender people to feel they are being attacked. 

"I'm hearing from school board chairs and other boards that they would not have allowed that either. I'm hearing from past chairs of this board," said Piatkowski. 

But, he's also heard from people across the continent who've sent him hate messages.

"So my email inbox, my phone is ringing in the middle of the night, my Twitter mentions -- it's pretty unpleasant, but it's a small taste of vulnerable people, including trans people experience," Piatkowski said.

He said this is telling him why protections are important.

Online video of Monday's WRDSB meeting has been taken down, while school board meetings have been public since the beginning of pandemic.

Piatkowski said he doesn't support the video's removal and had no role in the decision.

He said he's asking for the video to be put back up, with a trigger warning to inform people of problematic content because transparency is important.

The public school board chair said cameras will be installed after meetings return to in-person so they can continue to be publicly available. 

"I think that as problematic as this incident was, I think that the entire meeting should be up."

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