An Oct. 1 Facebook post by Wards 12 and 14 public school board trustee candidate Karen Draper is drawing a firestorm of criticism on social media, generating nearly 700 shares on Facebook and hundreds of critical reactions.
The post read, “LGBTQ r u 2 dum 2 c [sic] the terrorist attack in Edmonton is your fault as well.”
By Monday afternoon, Draper responded online with her justification.
“I actually had a validated reason for writing what I did because almost every lgbt member I’ve met has been counter protesting our events against m103, the open borders, and against Islamic terrorism [sic],” wrote Draper.
M103 is a federal motion passed in March, targeted at reducing all forms of racism and religious discrimination, particularly targeting Islamophobia.
Facebook user Mike Shawcross responded, “Shame on you. You’re actually serious in thinking you have any chance of holding an elected position of any kind, much less one to do with education?”
On Twitter, MRU Justice Studies professor Scharie Tavcer called for Draper’s removal, writing:
“There are no words…oh wait! Here’s one: DISQUALIFY …her for CBE trustee.”
Others were much more hostile in their attacks, calling Draper scum and a slut.
Facebook user Em Hasiuk called for calm, saying, “So as much as I disagree with this person, some of the awful comments here are nothing short of harassment. Understanding and education is what she needs. Please be respectful in your comments.”
Draper has expressed her dislike of LGBTQ initiatives before, including a Sept. 26 Facebook post explaining why she chose to run for the public school board.
“I thought if I did this. Took a stand against SOGI 123, took a stand to the social agenda being applied in our curriculum by the U.N. and did everything I could to get these youth the help that they need in being able to think for themselves and wake up, that I would have support from the people of the movement and all of you that want this just as bad as I do [sic],” Draper explained.
SOGI 123 is a resource for educators “with tools and resources for supporting marginalized LGBTQ students and for creating safer and more inclusive school environments for all students,” according to their website.
Lori Williams, a policy studies analyst at Mount Royal University, says she’s concerned the issues outlined by Draper have little to do with the work of school board trustees.
“I think, for the most part, what she’s concerned about, what she’s written in these Facebook posts and media responses, are beyond the purview of the school board,” says Williams.
“Some of the things she’s talking about are not school board issues. M103 is a resolution, sort of an aspirational appeal to resist racist and Islamophobic remarks. It’s not a law that’s imposed on people, it doesn’t restrict freedom of speech, and it’s federal. It’s got nothing to do with her,” she adds.
Williams also noted that while school board trustees should have excellent communication skills, Draper’s posts are littered with spelling and grammatical errors.
While Draper refused interview requests today from all media, she did respond to a Calgary Journal/Postmedia survey in which she was asked to imagine having to cut a school club from a list of many.
Draper replied: “Gay straight alliance club. Like I said before we need to prioritize our focuses and spending. Our Education Minister conviently issued this and only this insight into the new curriculum that is being built and convieniently it has been made a hot topic in our debates. I believe the government and corporate collusions on this matter are extremely manipulative and have already witnessed all the social justice groups pounce on anyone that opposes this. I have every respect possible for the LGBT rights but i refuse to debate this further when there are more important issues among the majority. The LGBT community has a large community support system that is accessible to youth so I don’t want any one to feel that “diversity and tolerance” doesnt go forward into our schools.”
According to a City of Calgary election profile, Draper is a 35-year-old stay-home mom who used to run her own cleaning business and has an accounting background.
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