Red Deer Catholic trustee who compared Pride to Nazism refuses to apologize

By Jeremy Appel

(AJNews) – A Red Deer Catholic school board trustee who compared 2SLGBTQ+ Pride to Nazism online will be allowed to keep her job, despite having never apologized for her social media post and speaking at a local anti-2SLGBTQ+ rally. 

In August, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) trustee Monique LaGrange was found by the board to have violated its Trustee Code of Conduct and the provincial Education Act with the post, which appeared on her Instagram and Facebook stories. 

She was permitted to keep her job under the conditions that she take sensitivity training about the Shoah and discrimination against 2SLGBTQ+ people and issue a public apology, the board decided in September. 

However, her lawyer James Kitchen told CTV News she won’t be apologizing and plans to order a judicial review of the board’s decision. 

“She didn’t do anything wrong. If she apologized, it would be dishonest,” Kitchen said. “And she has too much integrity to do that.”

He accused the board of “setting her up for failure” by imposing a condition on LaGrange “that they already know – or ought to know – that she cannot meet.”

He added that LaGrange hasn’t yet decided whether she’ll attend the sensitivity training sessions.

“Obviously to go through some sort of reeducation like that is going to be very unpleasant, so why bother?” Kitchen said. 

LaGrange spoke at the anti-2SLGBTQ+ “1 Million March 4 Children” event in Red Deer on Sept. 20, where she was hailed as a “hero” by attendees, according to local broadcaster rdnewsNOW

“You are their educators, you are the dominant educator, so you need to stand in that role and teach our children, keep them from agendas that are out there, right?” she told the crowd.

“Parents’ rights, that’s where this starts. Know what your children are learning, know what’s going on in the schools, know what’s going on in the division. We need to take back that authority and keep standing. This is today, we need to keep standing for tomorrow.”

LaGrange is prohibited from sitting on any RDCRS committees, attending their meetings, representing the board publicly and commenting on 2SLGBTQ+ people or the Holocaust until she completes the training.

However, she’s permitted to attend regular board meetings and raise “educational-related issues” for discussion and debate. 

Board chair Murray Hollman told CBC News that the RDCRS will launch another Code of Conduct complaint if LaGrange doesn’t follow through on the board’s requirements. 

The RDCRS hasn’t released the reasoning for its decision yet. 

According to Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, the decision of whether to remove a trustee is up to the school board. 

“The board has the authority and independence to manage its own affairs and I respect their autonomy,” he said in a statement to Global News.

Kitchen told CTV he plans to file the application for judicial review in November.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and Central Alberta Pride Society have called on LaGrange to apologize and step down from the board. 

ATA president Jason Schilling told CBC that while he would prefer LaGrange be forced to resign, he respects the “severity of some of the consequences that the board has put on this trustee.”

The Central Alberta Pride Society, however, said they’re “saddened and disheartened” by the board’s decision, calling the consequences for LaGrange’s conduct “somewhat adequate” but insufficient. 

“We still want her removed, whether voluntarily or involuntarily,” they told the CBC in a statement, noting her participation in the anti-2SLGBTQ+ event, which they said “speaks volumes” about the depth of her anti-2SLGBTQ+ animus.

“No level of courses or training will change her beliefs toward the LGBTQ2S+.

Jeremy Appel is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.

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