Red Deer Catholic trustee compares 2SLGBTQ+ Pride to Nazism

By Jeremy Appel

(AJNews) – A Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) trustee has been denounced by her own school board after sharing an image on Facebook and Instagram likening the 2SLGBTQ+ Pride movement to Nazism, but the board hasn’t committed to taking any further action beyond asking her to delete the post. 

Monique LaGrange, whose account has since been made private, posted a meme of two images — a black-and-white photo of children waving Nazi flags and a colour photo of children waving Pride flags — with the caption, “Brainwashing is brainwashing,” on her Facebook and Instagram stories.  

Of all people, someone who represents the education system ought to know how historically illiterate and offensive it is to liken 2SLGBTQ+ people to Nazis, says Canadian Anti-Hate Network executive director Evan Balgord.

“The Nazis persecuted and murdered queer people. Everybody, but especially anybody even tangentially involved in education, should understand and respect that history,” Balgord told Alberta Jewish News.  

A spokesperson for the RDCRS said in a statement that the board is conducting a review of its Trustee Code of Conduct “to reinforce our commitment to respectful and inclusive communication” for board members. 

“The content of the Facebook Story does not align with the principles and values that guide our Division, and Trustee LaGrange does not speak on behalf of the Board,” the statement reads.

“Our Division is committed to fostering learning environments that are inclusive, respectful, and considerate of all members of our schools and community. We deeply regret any distress that the comments may have caused.”

The board added that according to the Code of Conduct, “issues can be handled through a conciliatory approach if all parties are agreeable,” and that LaGrange deleted her post upon the RDCRS’s request. Posts on Facebook’s and Instagram’s story feature, however, automatically disappear after 24 hours. 

Alberta Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides also weighed in. “No one should have to live in fear of violence, discrimination, or exclusion,” he said on X (formerly known as Twitter).

“All students deserve to feel safe and welcome in schools across the province. I am beyond disappointed to see this and categorically condemn these actions.”

Nicolaides said he “will be following up” with RDCRS board chair Anne Marie Watson “to discuss this incident.” 

Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s Balgord said that LaGrange’s post is rooted in a “conspiracy theory that there is a sinister agenda behind teaching health and human rights education about 2SLGBTQ+ persons.”

“I can’t speak to what, exactly, LaGrange believes. But, oftentimes the conspiracy theory says that children are being groomed into becoming queer themselves, or being preyed upon by queer pedophiles,” Balgord said in an email. “It’s all a pack of lies.”

The purpose of 2SLGBTQ+ education is to teach students that it’s OK to be queer, and that queer people deserve the same respect and consideration as everybody else, he said. “The only agenda here is helping kids grow up to be better adults than Ms. LaGrange,” said Balgord.

He added that demanding LaGrange remove her post is insufficient — she should, if possible, be removed from the board by a vote of her colleagues. 

The Central Alberta Pride Society called on LaGrange to make a formal apology to Red Deer Catholic teachers, parents and students, and the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“Along with this, we are also requesting that Ms. Monique LaGrange either step down from her position as a board member or be removed immediately,” the society wrote. 

Kristopher Wells, the Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth at MacEwan University, said LaGrange’s comments could constitute “hate propaganda,” warranting an RCMP investigation. 

“Imagine if this same comparison was targeted towards the Jewish, Black or other minority communities in our society? There would be — and rightfully so — widespread outrage. But somehow, here we are in Alberta, where people and elected officials feel that this is appropriate,” Wells added in an interview with Global News

“We need to say loudly and clearly that hate has not only no place… but those perpetrators are going to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

On Sept. 6, Alberta Teachers Association president Jason Schilling released a statement noting that Monique LaGrange has yet to publicly address her post, which Schilling called “hate speech.”

“LaGrange’s inaction leads us to conclude that the trustee has no understanding of, or remorse for, the harm she has caused,” Schilling said. 

He noted that section 33 of the Education Act and the RDRCS Trustee Code of Conduct enables the school board to remove a trustee from all board committees and appointments. If the board declines to do this, Schilling said, Minister Nicolaides “should launch a formal review.” 

“Attacks on sexual and gender diverse students and school staff are increasing to exceptional and troubling levels. All of us must take action and speak out to protect the physical safety and mental well-being of those under threat,” he said. 

“Swift, decisive and highly visible action to combat this hatred is the only way forward.”

Jeremy Appel is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.

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