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Subject Vancouver Island Teacher Suspended For Showing Grade 4 Students Christmas Video Featuring Drag Queens
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Original Message A Grade 4 teacher has been suspended for using a YouTube video of cross-dressing bikini models to spark a classroom discussion on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.

Joe Winkler was suspended with pay this week after six parents at Brentwood elementary school complained about the “sexualized nature of the behaviour of the actors” in the clip, which features men in bikinis and wigs lip-synching Bette Midler’s rendition of the Mele Kalikimaka Christmas song as they frolic on a tropical shoreline.

Saanich school district superintendent Keven Elder said he found the clip inappropriate for the class, suspended Winkler and started an investigation into his actions Wednesday.

“We will learn from this,” Elder said, noting that Grade 4 is about the time children in Saanich are first taught about LGBT issues, under a policy that came into effect in the district at the start of this school year. In June, Saanich became the 19th school board in the province to adopt an anti-homophobia policy.

“The teacher’s intent was to create some conversation around LGBT issues and specifically in this case to issues of transgender, although I’m not sure that this video really speaks to transgender issues,” Elder said. “He thought that it would be a conversation starter that would be appropriate and he may feel differently now.”

Dionne Rogers wrote a letter to Elder and Brentwood’s principal Thursday to protest the lack of oversight she said allowed Winkler to show the video.

“I have no issues about him — about his sexual orientation, what he chooses to do — that doesn’t bother me at all,” Rogers said. “What I care about is the content that was showed to my daughter and I don’t appreciate that.

“I think (the video is) terrible.

“If you were a transgender male I think it’s degrading for them, because there is some real beautiful transgender males out there.”

Her daughter was a little embarrassed and “didn’t really know what to say about it,” when Rogers questioned the 10-year-old about the video. “She just thought it was kind of weird how the guy was dressed.”

Still, another three parents phoned to express their support for Winkler’s actions after he showed the clip to his class of 24 students on Tuesday.

[link to www.vancouversun.com]
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