A local school board trustee compared the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to Nazis in a social media post this week.
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board of trustees member Monique LaGrange recently published a story on her personal Instagram page featuring two pictures – one of children waving Nazi flags and another of children waving Pride flags – with the caption, “Brainwashing is brainwashing.”
“It’s disappointing to see Ms. LaGrange resort to such lazy tactics to appeal to conservative-minded folks like her,” chairperson of the board for the Red Deer Queer Community Association Alex Pugatschew said in a statement on Friday.
“Comparisons like this are not only unproductive but also disrespectful to a community of people who have been historically and are currently targeted by the very fascists she so openly compares us to.”
Pugatschew said many Albertans value diversity and embrace everyone, regardless of their orientation or presentation.
“This is what makes our communities stronger, and we at the Red Deer Queer Community Association have witnessed this firsthand. Not everyone may share this sentiment, but the fact is, that inclusivity and love for all are crucial for building a better world,” said Pugatschew.
“The Red Deer Queer Community Association acknowledges that Ms. LaGrange’s Instagram story was intended to incite animosity and conflict between individuals with opposing political beliefs. We are aware that such tactics are often employed to divert attention from important issues.”
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools issued a statement in response to LaGrange’s social media post.
“The content of the (Instagram) 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 said.
“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.
“In response to learning about this matter, we immediately engaged our Trustee Code of Conduct. According to the code, issues can be handled through a conciliatory approach if all parties are agreeable. In this instance, trustee LaGrange removed the social media post from her … page as requested by the board.”
LaGrange, who is one of five trustees representing the Red Deer area, received 2,546 votes in the 2021 municipal election.
The Advocate emailed LaGrange to ask for an interview or statement, but did not receive an immediate response.
In a statement, the Red Deer Catholic Local #80 of the Alberta Teachers’ Association described the post as an “affront to decency and a violation of law.”
“This is intended to incite hate,” the statement said.
“Section 33(1)(d) of the Education Act states that the board has the responsibility to ensure that each student enrolled in a school operated by the board and each staff member employed by the board is provided a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging.
“LaGrange’s offensive post is a rejection of this responsibility and an assault upon students and teachers and the entire school community.”
Red Deer Catholic teachers remain committed to ensuring that all students are welcomed into a safe and caring environment that nurtures and values each individual, the statement added.
“It remains to be seen whether LaGrange herself will take responsibility for her offensive public posting and make amends to those she has hurt.”