By Howard Levitt & Peter Carey
Recognizing gender identity does not permit vulgarity or sexualization
Recently the Halton District School Board has pronounced that it is legally unable to impose a dress code on Lemieux, thereby becoming an international laughing stock. The suggestion is so stupid and contrary to the law that we wonder what motivated it. However, the pronouncement has cowed parents who had been agitating for the board to stop her teaching their children in that attire.
Even in a unionized environment, an employer always has the right to ensure that employees are appropriately attired. By appropriately, we mean in a fashion appropriate to the position and which does not alienate customers, other employees and others with whom they deal.
The members of the Toronto Symphony attend concerts dressed in black because that does not distract from their music. If a member of the TSO attended in a lime green jumpsuit they would be sent home immediately (as would we if we wore such a costume to court).
Why then is the Halton District School Board allowing this garish, sexualized, hyperbolic, provocative, in short, completely inappropriate attire? One has to conjecture that they are a victim of “wokeness.” Because the teacher in question has self-identified as transgender, they are terrified to take appropriate action. If any of us went to work in costume or barefoot and generally unkempt, we would reasonably expect to be sent home, if not fired. If we argued that we did so as a presentation of a particular identity or even “gender identity,” it would be no different as that is not a defence, contrary to what Halton would have you believe.
Instead, Halton is accommodating Lemieux. Or perhaps Lemieux is simply having some fun at the fatuity of Halton, enjoying seeing how far it can be pushed.
But what’s next? Teachers wearing cod pieces? Leather gear? Anything goes in Halton! Why not, if this does?
Let’s be clear: The Halton District School Board has the legal ability to insist that their teachers wear appropriate attire to school. They should do that in the present case. Not to do so actually creates a precedent and legally opens the door for further abuses.
The Halton District School Board is failing its students and its teachers in not dealing with such outrageous conduct. It should do what is required in the interests of its students.