Patricia Grell, trustee who supports transgender girl, may face sanctions

An Edmonton Catholic school trustee who spoke against a decision to make a transgender girl use a gender-neutral washroom could face sanctioned from her peers.

Alberta Party leader calls on Edmonton Catholic Schools to change bylaws

Catholic trustee Patricia Grell speaks to the media at a protest outside the school board's office in downtown Edmonton on Friday. (CBC )

An Edmonton Catholic school trustee who spoke against a decision to make a transgender girl use a gender-neutral washroom is certain she will be sanctioned by her peers.

Patricia Grell published a blog post where she expressed support for the seven-year-old. The child wants to use the girls' washroom at her school.

While Grell's position has won her praise, she believes she will face discipline from her fellow trustees for violating an Edmonton Catholic School District bylaw. 

"I did break a protocol. You are supposed to stand behind the decision of the board," Grell said Friday. "And I'm just afraid I couldn't stand behind it, not in this case."

Grell joined about two dozen people who protested the board's decision in front of the school district's office in Edmonton on Friday. She said she felt the issue was too important for her to stay silent. 

"There are times where you have to take a stand," she said. "I hope that by doing this I am teaching my children the importance of integrity and the importance of standing by what you believe in." 

Alberta Party leader and MLA-elect Greg Clark also joined the protest. He says the school district may need to change its bylaws.

"I think free speech is a fundamental right we all have, especially those who seek elected office," Clark said.

"You do so to stand up for the people who elect you. You do so to stand up for Albertans."

When asked whether she thinks the rules should change, Grell said they probably should. She also rejected calls for her to step down. 

The board meets next Tuesday. Trustees could decide then whether Grell will be sanctioned. However, Grell characterized the punishment as a slap on the wrist. 

"I'm not that worried about it," she said. 

The child's mother has filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission.


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