School Boards Should Reject Woke Diversity

November 18, 2021 Updated: November 18, 2021

Commentary

If you are looking for a growth industry to create a long-term career, become an equity officer or a diversity consultant. There are plenty of organizations that want to check off the “diversity” box when hiring new employees.

This is particularly true in school boards. For example, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has an entire “Equity and Inclusive Schools” team that is devoted to promoting diversity.

If we were to grade TDSB’s commitment to diversity based on its outward appearance, we would have to give the board an A+. However, looks can be deceiving. High-minded declarations are one thing, but concrete action is another thing.

Suppose a school book club wanted to feature two books, one written by a successful female lawyer and the other by a Nobel prize-winner and human rights activist. One might think that TDSB’s Equity and Inclusive Schools team would jump at an opportunity to highlight two female role models.

Sadly, that isn’t what happened. The first book event was initially rejected because the author, Marie Henein, had defended someone accused of sexual assault during a high-profile trial. Even more bizarrely, the TDSB also refused to feature Nobel prize-winner Nadia Murad’s book criticizing the Islamic State because they mistakenly assumed it would foster Islamophobia.

When so-called equity officers cannot distinguish between the Islamic State and Islam, then we know things have gone off the rails. The fact that they fail to understand that everyone, even accused sex offenders, has the right to a lawyer and a fair trial, is even more disturbing.

To make matters worse, TDSB tolerates staff members who openly disseminate anti-Israel propaganda. Earlier this year, for example, one of its equity officers was temporarily suspended for disseminating material that accused Israel of apartheid and endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Unfortunately, the suspension didn’t last long, and the employee was reinstated without so much as a reprimand. Apparently, TDSB has no problem with its employees publicly attacking the nation of Israel during school hours. So much for promoting a safe and inclusive learning environment for everyone.

In September, a keynote speaker at a TDSB professional development session for teachers launched into a passionate attack against Israel and accused the country of engaging in “settler colonialism.” One can only imagine how Jewish teachers in the audience must have felt about TDSB’s so-called commitment to diversity.

Earlier this month, a group of high school students from a TDSB school held a lunch-hour rally. During this rally they held up signs and chanted slogans such as “Free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” These statements are widely understood as calling for the destruction of Israel. Simply put, Israel would not exist as a Jewish state if the Free Palestine Movement had its way.

Sadly, instead of denouncing this event, the school whitewashed it by sending a letter home to parents saying that “those expressions mean different things to different people.” The letter went on to say that while some Jewish people were offended, some Palestinians use these slogans as a way of upholding their rights.

Clearly, it is contradictory to uphold diversity while turning a blind eye to incidents that blatantly target one group of people. True diversity is incompatible with this kind of hypocrisy.

However, organizations like TDSB do not see the hypocrisy because they do not actually believe in diversity. Instead, TDSB has embraced a woke version of diversity that sees everything through the lens of class warfare and divides people into categories of oppressed and oppressor.

As a result, we end up with the absurdity of cancelled book club events, blatant propaganda that attacks the only democracy in the Middle East, and lunch-hour protests that target one country but give a pass to neighbouring countries with much worse human rights records.

The sad reality of woke diversity is that it isn’t diversity at all. In fact, it’s just another way of enforcing ideological conformity. Instead of bringing people together, it divides them and keeps them apart.

TDSB and other school boards need to take a good hard look in the mirror. If they truly want to promote diversity, they can start by using some common sense and showing basic courtesy to all people.

You don’t need a bevy of overpriced diversity consultants to tell you how to do that.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher, a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and author of “A Sage on the Stage: Common Sense Reflections on Teaching and Learning.”