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Nazi, Pride post leads to censure for Catholic school trustee

Monique LaGrange keeps position on Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board of trustees after controversial social media post
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools trustee Monique LaGrange. File photo

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) board of trustees has officially found trustee Monique LaGrange in violation of the Trustee Code of Conduct and the Education Act after she made a social media post likening the Pride movement to Nazism.

The move came by way of motion at the board’s Sept. 26 meeting.

In August, LaGrange posted on her personal Facebook account two photographs, one an historical photograph of a group of children holding Nazi flags with swastikas and one a contemporary photograph of children holding rainbow Pride flags. The post (also called a meme) also included a caption stating “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”

The posting has been widely condemned, including by the Alberta Teachers' Association, the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association, and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

LaGrange has not responded to Albertan requests for comment.

The 10,600 student RDCRS includes schools in Innisfail and Olds.

The motion passed by the board states that LaGrange is “censured from being part of all and any part of board committees and is censured from attending and participating in all board committees, including any part thereof.”

She shall also not represent the board/school division in any official capacity, including board/school division functions, events, award ceremonies, conferences, assemblies, school masses, graduation events, school council meetings and speaking with news/media outlets.

She must also cease making any public statements in the area touching upon or related to the 2SLGBTQ+ community and the Holocaust, including presenting at meetings and conferences on these topic or related areas and speaking to various new outlets.

As well, within 90 days she must enrol in, at her own expense, and successfully complete “suitable sensitivity training about the Holocaust” and “suitable sensitivity training relative to the challenges and discrimination faced by members of the 2SLGBTO+ community” and “suitable sensitivity training covering professional school trustee boundaries and appropriate use of social medial, cultural sensitivity and human rights.”

The board must determine the suitability of the proposed training and approve all courses prior to commencement.

“The above training is intended to remind the trustee of her role and responsibilities as a school board trustee and to assist the trustee to make better decisions in any further communications, including on social media,” the motion states.

LaGrange must also issue a “sincere public letter of apology to school division students, staff, and the board in relation to the meme” and the apology must “recognize the inappropriateness of the trustee’s actions and that the trustee is deeply sorry for having offended anyone through her actions.”

She must also refrain from posting any content of a similar nature relating to the meme.

The censure outlined in the motion may be removed by the board prior to the end of LaGrange’s term as trustee if the terms and conditions set out are met to the satisfaction of the board.

LaGrange can still attend RDCRS board meetings, and may bring forward any educational-related issue for discussion and debate to the board through the board’s standard procedures and practices.

“To ensure clarity the board welcomes open debate on education-related issues in accordance with board policy and procedures, including sensitive and difficult topics,” the motion states.

In the same motion, the board directed superintendent of schools, Dr. Kathleen Finnigan, to arrange a meeting with the Alberta Human Rights Commission to confirm an education workshop for the board, and meet with the director of education of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre to confirm the date of an education workshop by the centre for the board.

As well, the board instructed Finnigan to confirm a workshop for the board on “pastoral approach to support students in the development and understanding of their sexuality.”

The Pride movement promotes and protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people among others.

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