Oshawa school trustee Linda Stone resigns following controversy around ‘transphobic’ tweets

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Published May 18, 2022 at 1:24 pm

Oshawa school trustee Linda Stone resigns following controversy around 'transphobic' tweets
Linda Stone has resigned from the DDSB board following transphobic tweets and comments. - via Twitter

An Oshawa seat on the Durham District school board sits empty today following another resignation of Linda Stone amid a firestorm of criticism of tweets and retweets deemed “transphobic” by observers.

Stone, appointed to the board in 2020, has been criticized for some months due to comments surrounding gender expression, the rights of transgender students, the idea that gender-neutral bathrooms are “dangerous,” and puberty blockers.

Ideas and questions Stone has publicly posed on her very busy Twitter feed include: “How many different pronouns must a teacher memorize. If 23 students all have different pronouns and the teacher gets one wrong, would that be grounds for a complaint?”

The question, which Stone posted before on an account she has since deleted, was met with widespread condemnation. “This is a ridiculous question and seems transphobic. Obviously we learn our students’ pronouns,” said one teacher.

PFLAG Durham, a local LGBT advocacy group, said, “You asked the question before, were told it was offensive, you deleted your account and the board put out a statement regarding your behaviour. You then chose to ask the same question again…… how is it not intentional?” in response to Stone’s assertion she was just asking questions.

Numerous retweets of Stone focus on the cases of “detransitioning,” the term used when transgender people regret their gender affirmation and return to their previous gender expression.

One such story she shared asserts a woman who was ‘transed’ and “thankfully broke free and is telling her story. Failed not only by modern medicine but also by adults too willing to validate ‘trans’ mythology, regardless of the harm.”

While detransitioning has not been extensively studied, what studies have been done indicate detransitioning to be quite rare and mostly the result of external factors.

A study conducted by Dr. Vivien Andersson, a PhD in public health with the Bedbible Research Centre, found that of nearly 40,000 people who reported a history of gender affirmation, about 13 per cent backed out.

The study found more than 82 per cent of those who detransitioned did so due, at least in part, to external factors leading to the conclusion that among transgender and gender divergent (TGD) adults with a reported history of detransition, “the vast majority reported that their detransition was driven by external pressures.”

Sample reasons for the decision include;

  • “Unable to afford hormone replacement therapy”
  • “Back in 1997, virtually no one had heard of queer-gender people. I couldn’t find a support system, and I couldn’t figure out how to tell people what I was.”
  • “Forced to by going to federal prison for two years”
  • “With the high level of transphobia that exist[s], life gets very lonely.”
  • “Traumatized by corrective rape, so recloseted,” and,
  • “School staff harassed and abused me daily for my gender expression.”

Meanwhile, internal factors tended to be more about still finding one’s self or learning they were instead genderfluid. “Unsure of my exact gender identity,” and “My gender feels complicated and changing all the time,” were cited reasons, as were mental health crises and suicide attempts.

Transgender people are twice as likely as LGB people to contemplate suicide, and a third of trans youth attempted it last year, per the Centre for Suicide Prevention.

Many of Stone’s claims have been characterized as in line with Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs), a label Stone rejects.

TERFs emerged about 15 years ago as a minority in feminist thought which does not consider women who have affirmed their womanhood as “real” women.

However, many of Stone’s professed views align with common TERF positions. Much discourse has surrounded the ability of transgender people, particularly women, to use the women’s bathroom.

“We must stand and fight for private spaces for women and girls,” Stone said via tweet, arguing against gender-neutral bathrooms in schools. “Adding gender-neutral bathrooms doesn’t take away from the girls washroom,” responded one user.

“DDSB Trustee Stone continues to push the narrative that new schools will only have gender-neutral washrooms. She refuses to provide a source for her claim. This IS transphobia,” said another.

Alongside attacks on the “woke cult” and liberals, between interviews with psychologist and conservative personality Jordan Peterson, Stone has also shared support with self-described TERF and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling (herself embroiled in controversy for her own comments) and attacked the idea of transgender women in sport, another common position among TERFs.

In response to these statements, DDSB said her comments made are “contrary to the commitment, values and actions of the Durham District School Board and our responsibility to promote and respect the Ontario Human Rights Code. We strive to create learning and working environments that are safe, equitable, inclusive, respectful and welcoming of all identities.”

In reaction to the condemnation her comments received, Stone has blamed “cancel culture” as the reason for the backlash saying, “Many good and decent people are being forced out of positions of prominence because of the cancel culture mob. These mobs do not deal in dialogue or critical thinking only revenge and ruthless attacks.”

Stone submitted her resignation prior to the May 16 DDSB board meeting. She had previously resigned, and then retracted that resignation in January after she decried the DDSB’s then-draft human rights policy “dangerous” in limiting free speech.

This time the resignation was followed through with other board trustees voting to accept Stone’s resignation. They also voted to keep her seat, one of three for Oshawa, empty until the school trustee election in the fall.

“PFLAG and EGALE [another LGBT advocacy group] are you satisfied? Did you get your pound of flesh?” Stone said online after the meeting.

In response to Stone’s claims she’s been cancelled, PFLAG said “Upsetting that despite our offer to talk and provide guidance in response to her misguided beliefs around the trans community, [Stone] continues to blame the lgbtq community for her resigning.”

Former Whitby BIA executive director Liam Nichols said, “The DDSB is a safer place without Linda Stone.”

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