Teacher silenced for raising concerns about age-inappropriate books

Burjoski v. WRDSB

Teacher silenced for raising concerns about age-inappropriate books

Burjoski v. WRDSB

On June 27, 2022, legal action was initiated against the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) on behalf of Carolyn Burjoski. Ms. Burjoski, a former elementary and continuing education school teacher, was expelled from a public school board meeting after she objected to Board decisions to ban library books deemed “harmful,” and include books on sexuality and sterilization as part of the curriculum for all elementary students. Ms. Burjoski attended the meeting as a delegate on January 17, 2022, and attempted to make a 10-minute presentation to express her views, emphasizing that the proposed sex-ed materials would sexualize children and downplay the risks of medical sex transition.

Ms. Burjoski’s presentation included a passage from a book called Rick by Alex Gino, about a young boy whose friend talks about naked girls all the time. The boy decides that there must be something wrong with him because he has no sexual feelings, so he declares his “asexual identity.” The presentation also showed a passage from a book entitled The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessy, which deals with a young girl who identifies as a boy and takes puberty blockers and testosterone as part of a medical sex transition. Ms. Burjoski commented that some of the books “make it seem simple or even cool to take puberty blockers and opposite sex hormones.”

Ms. Burjoski’s presentation was cut off after four minutes by Chairperson Scott Piatkowski, who alleged that it violated the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Board voted to uphold Mr. Piatowski’s decision, and Ms. Burjoski was expelled from the meeting.

The Supreme Court has described the free exchange of ideas as ‘the very lifeblood of democracy’.

The case was heard before a panel of the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on June 5, 2023 where lawyers argued that the decision to muzzle Ms. Burjoski was a violation of her Charter right to freedom of expression.

On November 29, 2023, the court released its decision dismissing her case. Ms. Burjoski is seeking leave to appeal this decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

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