‘Transphobic’ tweets put Oshawa school board trustee Linda Stone under fire again

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Published December 13, 2022 at 8:22 pm

Linda Stone is again under fire for tweets deemed transphobic. - via Twitter.

One of the Durham District School Board (DDSB) trustees for Oshawa, Linda Stone, is under fire again after once more making social media posts seen as transphobic.

Last week Stone retweeted far-right-wing social media personalities Jordan Peterson and Libs of Tik Tok who claimed gender identity was “made up by a pedophile psychopath.”

In fact, gender variance, concepts of transgenderism and gender non-binary are recorded throughout human history and across countless cultures from the Indian hijahs, Hawaiian mahu, and First Nation two-spirited people. As such no one man created the concept.

References to a human who is neither man nor woman are featured in The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest extant story in human history and in other mythologies around the world over thousands of years. Some cultures accepted them and others ostracized them, varying widely from case to case.

Additionally, it was prolific UCLA Professor of Psychiatry Robert Stoller who coined the phrase “gender identity” in 1964. No allegations of pedophilia have been levelled against him contrary to Libs of Tik Tok’s claims.

Once Stone’s tweets were discovered, a backlash followed immediately. Writer Alicia MacAuley asked the DDSB, “how can this trustee continue to sit on your board while using her social media platforms to promote anti-trans hate speech that directly contradicts your own human rights policy?”

MacAuley’s assessment that Stone’s tweets violated the Board policy is correct. The policy “prohibits discrimination and harassment in the delivery of services, in employment and in DDSB learning and working environments,” include discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

The policy also notes that social media can be considered a part of the DDSB’s learning and working environments.

PFLAG Durham, a local LGBT advocacy group, said they were “extremely disappointed” Stone would continue to espouse “transphobic rhetoric” on social media.

“We have voiced our disappointment and shock to senior administration and and trustees at the board office,” they said. They are hoping for an “expedient” response.

Following PFLAG’s release the DDSB released a statement saying they neither control or monitor Stone’s Twitter.

“This social media activity does not reflect the work of, and is contrary to the commitment, values and actions of, the DDSB, the Board of Trustees and the Senior Team. Many trustees and staff have received concerns from the community on this topic and about the harm it is causing them or the ones they love,” the DDSB said.

They stressed that Stone was elected in October’s municipal election and they do not have the power to remove a trustee for conduct. Additionally, they called Stones comments a “distraction” from the Board’s work upholding the Human Rights Code of Ontario.

“The DDSB strives to create learning and working environments that are safe, equitable, inclusive, respectful and welcoming of all identities. We recognize the effects of historical and ongoing oppression, discrimination and hate because…Human Rights Code protected grounds,” they said. These grounds include gender identity and gender expression.

“The activity goes beyond ‘a distraction.’ It is openly harmful to students and threatens the good work the board is doing,” said Whitby Library Board member and former Whitby BIA Director Liam Nichols. Nichols had previously called the DDSB a “safer place” after Stone’s resignation following her last controversy.

DDSB schools have made strides in protecting their LGBT students of late including, new inclusive washrooms, the MyName Initiative, and Gay-Straight Alliances.

“The Board of Trustees and staff continue to actively address transphobia, racism and all other forms of discrimination and hate in our schools and workplaces.”

Stone’s fellow Oshawa trustee Shailene Panylo also condemned her colleagues comments and called for an Integrity Commissioner investigation.

She later stressed, “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.”

Update: Following to emergence of Stone’s resurgence on Twitter, she called the criticism an attack on her personally.

A few days earlier she had additionally said she was being called transphobic for her concern for people who detransitions (A rare occurence largely driven by discrimination: see below.) and questioning the use of puberty blockers.

While studies are limited they indicate the use of puberty blockers is largely safe and reversible. They’ve been in use since the 1980s to treat early puberty, however their use in transitioning is a more recent application. Therefore long-term impacts are fully understood.

Past is Prologue

As noted, this is the Stone’s second time in hot water for transphobic comments. Stone was appointed to the board in 2020 and controversy brewed around her for months until May 2022.

“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?” she tweeted.

“This is a ridiculous question and seems transphobic. Obviously we learn our students’ pronouns,” one teacher replied. At the time, PFLAG condemned the comments as well saying they had already told Stone such question are offensive. The DDSB also decried Stone’s comments at the time

She also raised the ire of observers for pushing the narrative that many transgender people regret their transition and “detransition” back to their gender-assigned at birth.

Such claims are common attacks on transgender acceptance, but are not backed up by the evidence. Studies from Stanford University show “detransitions” are rare at about 13 per cent. Of that 13 per cent, 82 per cent back out due to “external factors” such as discrimination, lack of supports, abuse and trauma from “corrective” rape.

One person reported they detransitioned because, “School staff harassed and abused me daily for my gender expression.”

Following the outrage surrounding Stone’s comments she blamed “cancel culture” for the controversy. The January 2022 she announced her resignation, but backpedalled before leaving the board. When controversy mounted again in the spring she resigned in May.

However, she threw her name in the ring for re-election for October and regained her seat. Oshawa elects the three candidates with the most vote share. Stone came in first with 4,700 votes or 11.7 per cent

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