Gay community advocates are questioning why a teacher who made an allegedly homophobic remark to an openly gay student in class has received only a two-week suspension from the Ministry of Education.
A Penticton Secondary School teacher agreed Oct 30 to a two-week suspension under the provincial Teachers Act after he admitted he made an insensitive comment about sexual orientation to an openly gay male student.
According to the citation against French immersion teacher Miko McGrady, in response to a comment by the student, McGrady said, “Je déteste les pédéles,” which roughly translates into “I hate fags.”
The citation says also that McGrady singled out an openly gay male student by referring to him as “flamboyant.”
“What incredibly unprofessional behaviour from a teacher,” says Ryan Clayton, who co-spearheaded last year’s Purple Letter Campaign requesting anti-homophobia programs in schools.
“You don’t get to be the class bully and the teacher at the same time,” Clayton says. “How devastating. It sounds like he’s not someone who should be in front of a group of kids.”
Clayton says there aren’t enough resources for queer youth in small towns without teachers contributing to their problems.
But McGrady tells Xtra the student in question asked to be in his class again the following year.
“I have nothing against gay people,” he says. “It was totally taken out of context. It wasn’t a homophobic thing at all.”
An Oct 30 summary of the resolution of the case from the Ministry of Education’s Teacher Regulation Branch says McGrady was not motivated by homophobia and had no intention to hurt the student.
However, the summary says McGrady agrees the statement should not have been made under any circumstances.
Clayton still wants to know why the suspension is so short. “They’d better have a good explanation for this,” he says.
Asked about the incident at the Nov 13 Erase Bullying summit in Vancouver, Premier Christy Clark says the province has a long way to go in dealing with bullying-related issues.
“We have to send the right message that bullying will be dealt with appropriately,” Clark says. “It’s an example of what we have to do better.”
The citation also includes allegations that McGrady once told a female student the reason he smelled was that he had slept with her mother the night before and had not yet taken a shower; that he said a female student absent from class due to illness might have “morning sickness;” and that he made inappropriate jokes and comments to students in class about student sexual activity, drinking and drug use.
The incidents allegedly took place between December 2009 and June 2010.
As a result of McGrady’s agreement to the suspension, the citation was rescinded.
McGrady is currently listed as a teacher at Penticton’s KVR Middle School. The district does not have an anti-homophobia policy.