Lesbian teacher told to work from home, group says
Parents at Vancouver girls' school didn't want lesbian: Pride Education Network
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | 1:57 PM PT
A teacher at a Catholic high school for girls in Vancouver was told to work from home after parents complained about having a lesbian teach their kids, a gay rights group says.
Earlier this week, Vancouver's Little Flower Academy told Lisa Reimer, a music teacher, to work from home for the rest of her contract, which expires in June, the Pride Education Network said Wednesday.
The advocacy group alleges that the private school sent Reimer home because she is a lesbian parent.
Reimer told the school administration of her sexual orientation when she formally requested parental leave in December 2009 because her partner was expecting a baby, the group said.
She was denied the leave in January, and earlier this month she was told to stop teaching in class and work from home instead.
The principal told Reimer the administration had no concerns about her ability to teach but that many parents were worried about her potential influence on students, the Pride Network said.
Reimer does not expect to have her contract renewed, the group said.
In a news release late Wednesday, Little Flower Academy's chair, Celso Boscariol, said he "was quite surprised" by Reimer's statements.
"A meeting took place [earlier this month] between the school and the teacher to discuss projects consistent with the music theory curriculum. The school understood that her proposed role was acceptable and the matter was resolved," Boscariol said.
Reimer was hired in September 2009 on a contract that ran until June 30, 2010 to cover for a maternity leave, he said.
Boscariol's release made no mention of complaints from the parents of students or that she had been asked to work from home.
The Pride Education Network originally said in a press release that Reimer had been fired but later confirmed she had been told to work from home.
"Little Flower Academy is a publicly funded religious school," said Steve LeBel of the Pride Education Network in a statement released by the group on Wednesday morning.
"They are clearly discriminating against Ms. Reimer on the basis of her family status and sexual orientation. In 2010, it is absolutely unfathomable that any school would insinuate that students could be led into homosexuality by having a lesbian teacher, and then fire that teacher."
"This kind of discrimination and homophobia could never happen in a public school," said Glen Hansman, a vice-president with the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association, in the statement.
"This case is a clear example why private schools should not receive any kind of public funding whatsoever. All teachers have the right to a safe and accepting workplace. Catholic schools should be no different."
Reimer will remain on the school's payroll until June, but then plans to move to the public school system in September as a teacher in Vancouver, said the group.
The Vancouver School Board has a discrete policy that explicitly protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teachers from discrimination, said the group.
Corrections and Clarifications
- Lisa Reimer was not fired from Little Flower Academy as originally reported. In April she was told to work from home until her contract expires in June, according to the Pride Education Network. April 28, 2010 | 1:29 p.m. PT
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