Pamela Buffone is worried about the way gender identity is being taught in schools, particularly in light of the strong impact such lessons had on her 6-year-old daughter.
“I believe strongly that parents need to be aware of what their children are being taught and why, particularly when it comes to their personal identity,” Buffone said in an interview.
“I’m hoping to raise awareness of this because I think we need to draw the line between education and indoctrination.”
Buffone and her husband, Jason, filed a human rights complaint against the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the school principal, and a first-grade teacher after their daughter, known in the case as “N,” became troubled about her gender identity due to a series of lessons on gender ideology.
In the early months of 2018, as part of the lesson plan, N’s teacher, Janine Blouin, showed the children a YouTube video titled “He, She, and They?!? - Gender: Queer Kid Stuff #2” and further discussed the concepts of the gender spectrum and sex changes, according to the complaint.
N told her mother that in one class, Blouin said “there is no such thing as girls and boys” and “girls are not real and boys are not real.” N soon began telling her parents that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a mother, wondered why her identity as a girl was “not real” and what she could do about it, and asked if she could go to a doctor.
“The reason my daughter became confused and started asking us questions about what she was being taught was because she believes very strongly that she’s a girl,” says Buffone.
Alarmed, Buffone and her husband talked to the teacher and the principal and met with the school board’s superintendent and those in charge of the curriculum.
However, according to Buffone and the case file, they were told the school’s position on gender identity was “the new reality” and were given no indication that their concerns would be taken seriously. The complaint states: “The School Board did not agree to communicate with parents when sensitive discussions took place, nor did they agree to issue any directive or take corrective action in order to ensure that children of female gender identity were positively affirmed.”
With help from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), the Buffones brought the case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. They are alleging that the school discriminated against their daughter on the basis of sex and gender identity in contravention of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, as its position lacks neutrality and deprives an individual of their “personal security and psychological integrity.”
“The only option we were given was to have our daughter sit out of lessons on gender. She was discriminated against because of her gender identity and sex as a female. We want the school to understand how this was discriminatory, and to take steps to refrain from treating other gender-conforming children this way in the future,” Buffone says.
“We also want them to stop teaching the idea that boys and girls don't exist.”
The Epoch Times requested comment from the Ontario Ministry of Education, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, and the Ontario College of Teachers, but none responded by deadline.
Buffone believes the intention is to indoctrinate children and transform their entire conception of gender from the biological one to one based on "this new gender ideology."
“This, in my view, is indoctrination because it doesn’t recognize the alternative point of view, which is that people can identify with their biological sex regardless of how they might express or feel about their gender,” she says.
“Parents need to understand that our education system is being used to systematically reprogram the way our children identify, and this is being done deceptively under the guise of ‘inclusive education’ with the full support of the teachers’ college, the teachers’ unions, and the government.”
Buffone says much of this came as a shock to her and her family—a testament to how much parents may not know about what goes on in the classroom.
As the case file explains, N’s teacher claimed in a meeting with Buffone that what prompted the gender discussions in class was students who were “questioning and struggling with this idea of girls and boys, so the idea of gender fluidity needed to be discussed to help them understand what they were going through.”
“[However,] what they insisted were ‘teaching moments’ we discovered were actually a very systematic pattern of lessons using teaching tools that included a video, storybook, and whiteboard lessons, and the school board refused to disclose these lessons to parents of the class,” Buffone says.
“The College of Teachers also told us that the curriculum reflects a certain ideology in that these new terms ‘gender expression and gender identity’ are used throughout.”
Lisa Bildy, the JCCF staff lawyer representing the Buffones, says the school board is essentially taking the position that Ontario’s Human Rights Code can apply differently to certain people depending on how they choose to identify themselves.
“The school board’s position is tantamount to saying that only some people’s human rights are worthy of protection: Only those who have claimed special status for themselves on the basis of their internal feelings of gender are entitled to this legal protection against discrimination,” she tells The Epoch Times.
“In order for gender non-conforming people to have this special status, it is necessary to make the assumption that everyone else is ‘cisgender’ or ‘conforming’ and therefore not worthy of protection.”
To combat this, the Buffones and the JCCF are flipping the logic on its head. “It’s our position that, if everyone has a gender identity and gender identity is protected under the Code, then a little girl who identifies strongly as a girl should not be discriminated against by being told her identity isn’t ‘real,’” Bildy says.
Buffone believes the situation is a reflection of the much larger issue of people stifling discussion in favour of holding to ideology, especially in vital institutions like public schools and universities that play an important role in sustaining a civil society.
“What concerns me most about what’s happening in our society right now is that important discussions are being shut down,” she says. “This was how we felt when we were trying to raise our concerns to the school board, that they just wanted to shut down the conversation as quickly as possible and get us to fall in line. This can’t be how a free and democratic society operates because this topic isn’t going away; it just starts to fester and create social unrest.”
This is why it’s paramount that parents “arm their kids” with knowledge, she adds.
“I think the only defence is a strong offence, and we’ve started explaining to our kids why they might hear certain messages from teachers or others on what it means to be a boy or a girl, and we’ve told them what we believe about the nature of gender and biology,” she says.
“It’s an ongoing process and I can only hope that my kids will make the best decision for themselves one day in terms of how they choose to ‘identify,’ but I want them to understand the reasons behind their choice and the implications of their choice on society as well.”