The video of an Ontario teacher wearing oversized prosthetic breasts to class has drawn global attention.
Recently, images of a shop teacher of Ontario’s Oakville Trafalgar High School conducting class whilst clad in gigantic silicone breasts with visible nipples that extended below his waistline were posted online.
In a recent statement, the Chairperson of Halton District School Board, Margo Shuttleworth, said the teacher revealed in the viral images is an industrial arts instructor who started identifying as female last year.
Surreptitiously captured by students, images of the instructor went viral across social media and became one of the world’s most popular Canadian recent news stories.
A 20-second video in particular has gained over six hundred and fifty thousand views. The video shows the teacher demonstrating how to use a chop saw while ensuring the large breasts do not get caught in the machinery. The caption read: “I don’t remember my shop teacher looking like this.”
In a recent letter to parents, Oakville Trafalgar confirmed that the video is authentic but implied that it would be illegal to suggest that the garb may not be appropriate, equaling the controversial decision of the teacher to wear oversized prosthetic breasts with the right to identify as transgender.
The letter read: “Gender identity and gender expression are protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code. We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate to our community that we are committed to establishing and maintaining a safe, caring, inclusive, equitable and welcoming learning and working environment for all students and staff.”
Statements issued to the media by the Halton District School Board said the same. While talking to Postmedia, HDSB Chair Margo Shuttleworth said the board is “creating a safety plan” to make sure that the teachers’ “gender rights” will be upheld.
If the case is attracting international attention, part of the reason is that it’s happening as a result of Canadian self-ID laws in relation to gender expression – laws that are not the norm in most parts of the U.S. states.
In 2012, Ontario only recognized someone’s gender transition if they could tender a note from a physician proving that they had gone through sexual reassignment surgery.
But a decision by the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2012 ruled that the requirement was discriminatory, and ordered that Ontario “shall cease requiring transgendered persons to have ‘transsexual surgery’ in order to obtain a change in sex designation on their registration of birth.”
Since then, this has meant that the legal gender of an Ontarian is now exclusively determined by personal choice.
An official explainer on the website of the Ontario Human Rights Commission read: “The law recognizes that everyone has the right to self-identify their gender and that ‘misgendering’ is a form of discrimination.” The Commission acknowledges that this requires some revocation of the right to freedom of expression but that “no right is absolute.”
In 2016, the laws were expanded to apply at the federal level. Following the passage of Bill C-16, “gender expression” became a protected category under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The standing rules of Halton District School Board on gender expression-drafted in the wake of the decision of 2012 – hold that students and staff must immediately affirm the chosen gender identity of any student or staff.
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