Six-month committee ban recommended for Oshawa trustee once again cited for “hate speech”

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Published March 4, 2024 at 1:24 pm

Oshawa school board trustee Linda Stone finds herself on the carpet once again, with the Durham School Bord’s Integrity Commissioner recommending she be barred from three board meetings and from all committee meetings for the next six months.

Stone, as well as fellow trustees Deb Oldfield and Emma Cunningham, were all subject to public complaints – mostly arising from a contentious board meeting (and the subsequent fallout on social media) from last May that attracted a full house of parents concerned with gender identity being taught in schools, the flying of the Pride flag and gender-neutral washrooms.

The meeting also attracted the attention of Pickering Councillor Linda Robinson, who was named in Integrity Commissioner Michael Maynard’s report as allying with Stone in harassing a resident and member of the Pflag Durham organization. Robinson was later admonished by Pickering Council for her actions.

Maynard recommended just censure against Oldfield and Cunningham, who were both flagged for their own social media comments in support of the LGBQT+ community after the May 2023 meeting.

Oldfield was cited for “accusing parents of spreading hate to their children,” according to the complainant, and “one sided religious posts,” including re-posting a political cartoon picturing Jesus Christ holding a rainbow flag saying, ‘I’ll forgive you’ as he walks past an apparently Christian protester who is waving a bible and holding a sign that asks, ‘What would Jesus Do?’

“Certainly, there are neo-Nazis and other hate groups in Canada who, among other goals, may seek actual violence against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,” Maynard said in his report. “Parents and the other people that I saw on the DDSB recording, who spoke at the May 15 meeting, do not appear to be those groups and should not be talked about with the same labels as those spreading hate, unless it can be demonstrably proven otherwise.”

The complaint alleges that three of Cunningham’s social media posts and associated threads on X were “dangerous and highly offensive,” while the trustee said the complaint was “retaliatory” on behalf of her comments regarding Robinson’s words and actions after the meeting.

Oshawa school board trustee Linda Stone

Cunningham also accused Stone of “hate speech” and told Maynard of a “veiled threat” from Stone following sanctions against Robinson at Pickering Council.

“The morning after the Pickering City Council meeting where Councillor Robinson was sanctioned, Trustee Stone wrote a post on her now-deleted Facebook page saying, “Hey councillors and trustees, what goes around comes around.”

The complainant in the case against Stone also cited hate speech from the Oshawa trustee. “Linda has made numerous posts on Facebook that are dangerous, unprofessional, hate speech and definitely has made me lack confidence in her as a trustee. She has made numerous posts on Facebook and Twitter promoting hate speech against mainly the trans community. On Orange Shirt Day while the schools were learning about truth and reconciliation, Linda Stone was sharing a story that [denies] the treatment of Indigenous people in residential schools.”

Other social media posts in the complaint were about unusual comments Stone made on puberty blockers:

“Puberty blockers can worsen the mental health of children, premature menopause, osteoporosis, children who did not attempt suicide before attempt it after being on them, decrease bone density, FDA issued a black box warning, possible brain swelling, loss of vision, mood changes, anxiety, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, delusions, depression, genital atrophy, and many other possible side effects.”

Stone also promoted a tweet about “eliminating ‘woke’ school boards and posted in opposition to gender identity and trans students rights.

“De-trans day is March 12. Lets make it detrans education week in schools.”

Stone is also accused of posted cartoon-like depiction of various naked bodies with the following comment: “I wonder if this book is in DDSB libraries. Warning…graphic”. Stone admitted she was not aware if a book containing this depiction is, in fact, in any DDSB school libraries.

The complainant accused Stone of harassment on multiple occasions that caused “personal harm” to he and his family to the point where he had to change his online name.

“Trustee Stone continues to demonstrate a cavalier attitude about her codified responsibilities concerning respectful communication, particularly online via social media,” Maynard said in his report. “Furthermore, she has shown disregard for this process by engaging in conduct which, in our view, was a thinly veiled attempt at reprisal against a complainant. This conduct is disturbing and unacceptable.”

Stone has a long record of sharing misinformation about the LGBT community and transgender people specifically, both in public school board meetings and on social media. She has also been censured and suspended by the school board multiple times and in fact resigned in 2022, only to run for re-election later that year and reclaim her seat on the board.

Maynard is recommending Stone be barred from three council meeting – one for each of the three complaints – and serve two three-month bans from all committee meetings.

The code of conduct violations will be debated and voted on at the Monday night Durham School Board meeting.

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