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Only a Few Defended the Teacher

Edmonton Sun - May 18, 2003
By Ted Byfield

Two things will, no doubt, dumbfound historians when they come to look back on the Canada of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. One is the fact that we very gradually converted the country into the most authoritarian state in the western world. The other is that so few Canadians objected to this when it was happening. One instance that may intrigue them, for example, is the appalling case of Chris Kempling - appalling, anyway, to Kempling. Nobody else seems much interested in it.

Kempling is (or was) a school teacher and counsellor in Quesnel, B.C. He was suspended for one month by the B.C. College of Teachers for writing letters to a newspaper criticizing the B.C. sex-ed courses. The courses failed, he said, to show that homosexual relationships are demonstrably unstable, that homosexual activity poses a health risk, and that many religions consider homosexual conduct immoral. Kempling made no such comments in class.

There were no parental or student complaints about his writing the letters to the editor, nor were there complaints from other teachers. In other words, his activity in this regard was entirely off-campus. He was addressing the public on a public issue, and expressing an opinion. The College of Teachers ruled that all this was irrelevant because "Mr. Kempling used his status as a teacher to give credibility to his views."

In short, when the teachers college takes a position on a moral question, all members of the profession are thereupon bound to either echo the view or shut up. Any violation of this rule will bring suspension.

In vain, Kempling looked around to see who would help him. His union, the British Columbia Teachers Federation, beyond providing some initial legal help, turned him down flat.

"His views are antithetical to our position about the inclusion of gays, lesbians, transgendered and two-spirited people in our society," says the president.

Neither would the B.C. Civil Liberties Association take up his cause. He should be fired as a school counsellor, says president John Dixon. That the college could find no specific impact on his students didn't matter. "If there are gay students in that school - and you can bet your bottom dollar there are - they're going to keep their heads down and they certainly aren't going to resort to Mr. Kempling for advice."

Kempling is a Christian, said Dixon, and as a counsellor he favours his religious conscience over his duties. How Dixon was in a position to know what Kempling might do in pursuing his duties, Dixon did not explain. Presumably, he believes no person with religious beliefs should be employed as a school counsellor because this danger would always exist. Atheists only need apply.

Kempling's church came to his help and contributed $30,000 to his defence fund. A few voices in the media spoke up. The Victoria Times-Colonist found it strange that the College of Teachers could become so zealous in protecting homosexuality. "Yet it can't bring itself to get rid of demonstrably rotten teachers, and can only issue reprimands to some who have had improper relationships with students, or, in one recent case, flashed them."

In The Vancouver Province, columnist Susan Martinuk called the college "a supposedly enlightened bunch" who sought to refuse to certify teachers from Trinity Western College because they might be Christians and therefore "homophobic."

Kempling says the ruling will ruin his career, since the college's decision will be circulated to every school division on the continent.

Meanwhile, a Commons committee is considering a bill that would make the reading of biblical injunctions against homosexuality in a church a "hate crime" under the Criminal Code. Another court fines a parent for spanking his teenaged son with a belt, while yet another court endorses the action of a social worker in seizing a whole family of kids because their parents were known to occasionally spank them. Throw in other endeavours by courts and governments and you see emerging the western world's No. 1 totalitarian state, all developed in the name of human rights. Yes, it will be very hard for future historians to understand.

 

 

   
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