Edmonton school trustee candidate under fire for homophobic Facebook posts

Tyler Duce, an Edmonton Public Schools trustee hopeful, is under fire for his controversial Facebook posts.

'I didn't choose to be homophobic, I was born this way,' Tyler Duce wrote in 2010

Tyler Duce, an Edmonton Public School Board trustee candidate, said he "couldnt help he was homophobic" in a Facebook post circa 2010. (Facebook)

An Edmonton public school board candidate is under fire for his controversial Facebook posts.

Board trustee hopeful Tyler Duce wrote several comments about the LGBT community in 2010 that did not go over well on social media.

"I didn't choose to be homophobic, I was born this way," one of his posts said. "It's beyond my control, no matter what I do I'll never be able to change it."

Another post said disliking the LGBT community is not a "human rights violation" and that "some people actually want to have kids." 

He said the posts were taken out of context and should not distract from his campaign.

"Anyone who hasn't written a sarcastic social media post before, let them cast the first stone," he told CBC News Monday.

Duce is running in Ward G to represent schools east of Gateway Boulevard between 23rd Avenue and 98th Avenue.

LGBT community 'concerned' by social media posts

Before each municipal election, the Capital Club, an Edmonton LGBT professional organization, conducts a survey to understand the positions of all candidates on important issues to the LGBT community. 

The survey includes questions on hate crimes, gay-straight alliances and inclusive policy making. 

Duce refused to answer the survey twice, so the group poked around his social media page and found the posts almost immediately. 

"This is the same tired rhetoric we've been hearing for years," Todd Herron, president of the Capital Club, told CBC News. 

Edmonton Public Schools "promotes welcoming, safe, and respectful working and learning environments for everyone, regardless of a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression," according to the board's website. 

Herron said the school board also has a strong anti-bullying campaign in its schools, but worries comments like Duce's will not help children feel accepted. 

"It's really critical that children hear this kind of message from the top that this type of intolerance will not be accepted," he said. 

"Children have to learn to get along at school together ... so it's really important that the schools foster that kind of community instead of a divisive one." 

'I trust the electorate'

Chris Sadoway has never voted in the school board elections before, but he said he will this year.

He has a daughter in Grade 1 at a Ward G school.

When Sadoway saw Duce's posts, he said it hurt him deeply that a school board candidate would have made such derogatory posts.

That's why he said he will vote this year to try to make sure Duce stays out of power.

"If you get enough of them that get these kinds of positions, they get to vocalize and normalize their ideals," he said Monday. "That kind of mindset can't take hold."

According to the board's trustee handbook, elected trustees may be held personally liable for acting in bad faith or out of discrimination.

Sadoway said the school board should not regulate who says what, but he hopes Duce won't make it into office.

"I trust the electorate," he said.

Duce said he continues to receive great feedback from the community about his campaign and that the Facebook posts have not hurt his credibility at all. 

Edmonton Public Schools refused to comment on Duce's campaign or the Facebook posts.

Edmontonians will vote for school board trustees on October 16 as part of the municipal election.