Anti-Transgender Candidates Enter School Board Elections

The capital’s school board trustee elections are home to vocal opponents of rights for trans kids.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network


Source: Twitter


The deadline for submissions to candidates for the Ottawa School Board Trustee election has now passed. A number of candidates running have made dismantling trans-inclusive education a central part of their campaign. 

With 41 candidates listed as running across 12 wards, the passing of the August 19 registration deadline has locked in the candidate list for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. Among them are two candidates making their opposition to “gender ideology” not just the keystone of their campaign, but the entire arch.

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Shannon Boschy and Chanel Pfahl have entered their names for Ottawa’s Zone 6 and Zone 8 respectively. Both have a history of anti-transgender activism that long predates the recent attempts to secure a position with the OCDSB. 

Boschy is a financial planner and partner at the Ottawa-area firm where he works. Sometimes shooting videos from the office, he has penned multiple blog posts complete with accompanying videos since at least December of 2020, focusing primarily on the “dangerous social contagion” – an idea debunked by medical doctors –  he has identified as the “gender ideology” – i.e. transgender people. 

Under the name Shannon B Douglas, he has penned multiple articles attempting to separate trans people from the larger 2SLGBTQ+ community. 

Closely allying himself with “Billboard” Chris Elston, a prominent Canadian anti-trans activist, Boschy appeared with Elston during the truck blockades that clogged the streets of Ottawa in February. By his own telling, Boschy also joined Elston outside one of the city’s schools to protest in October 2021 – Elston and his billboards were touring to protest outside a number of schools at the time

When the pair and a few other supporters arrived, they were met by an organized counter-protest

“I’m a candidate for school board trustee - running against Canada’s only trans-identified school trustee Lyra Evans,” Boschy wrote in July on Twitter. “After 20 years of declining results in education in Ontario, it’s time to stir the pot.”


Read More: Confronting and Preventing Hate in Canada's School Boards


More recently, Twitch streamer and trans woman Clara Sorrenti was doxed and swatted at her London, Ontario home. Fake threats from an account purporting to be Sorrenti were sent to law enforcement and resulted in her arrest at gunpoint.

Boschy’s response to the news was to post publicly “so sad you're reaping what you've sewn and crying victim, boo-hoo.”

Alleging the steamer was responsible for “contract-mobbing” Boschy earlier in the year resulting in “doxing, harassment, and threats.” 

“I'm so sorry to hear you're getting burned by the fire you play with,” he wrote. 

When reached for comment, Boschy rejected the characterization that he is anti-trans. 

“In a free and open society I have the right to speak my conscience and to disagree with doctrines being taught to children as fact,” he wrote, citing a number of studies and that his advocacy is done in the “interest of protecting vulnerable children.”

In a subsequent email, Boschy compared trans people to sexual predators. 

“Do you ever wonder why so many catholic priests got away with sexually abusing children for so many decades? Could it be that they used their status as representatives of God, as divine authorities, to hide their abuses?”

At this time, it appears he has presented little else about his intended platform other than being opposed to trans-inclusivity in education. 

  

Chanel Pfahl


Chris Elston with Chanel Pfahl in Ottawa. Source: Twitter

Also attending the Ottawa school protests in October with Elston, and a current candidate for school board trustee is Chanel Pfahl, a former secondary school teacher. 

On Twitter, Pfahl refers to herself as a “real LGBT advocate,” yet on Tuesday, posted that school-sponsored participation during the capital city’s pride parade was really about “tearing down the fabric of society for an imagined utopia where all groups have equal outcomes (communism rebranded).”

The former science teacher repeatedly posts and retweets anti-trans statements, fear-mongering about “Critical Race Theory,” and far-right media figures on her Twitter account.

Pfahl declined to comment when contacted about this article, but in an emailed statement to CTV, she reportedly wrote, "gender identity is a pseudoscientific concept which harms kids – especially the gender non-conforming kids with some level of gender dysphoria, who are most susceptible to it." 


Read More: A Children's Rights Framework for Asking School Board Trustee Candidates Important Questions


Both candidates appeared on a since-deleted list found on a site that posts profiles of Canadians running for seats on schoolboards who oppose the teaching of “gender ideology.” Pfahl lists the website’s URL on her social media.

The candidates in Ottawa’s trustee elections confirm what many trans organizers within the community have been warning about, says one local advocate, “a growing tide of organized transphobia connected with the wider far-right movement.”

According to Christian Wright, lead coordinator with the Rainbow Ottawa Student Experience (ROSE), the public needs to understand the importance of making sure these candidates are called-out and challenged when attempting to push anti-trans rhetoric in schools

Christian Wright previously wrote an article for the Canadian Anti-Hate Network about organizing the Ottawa counter-protest against Christ Elston, Shannon Boschy, and Chanel Pfahl.

“Opposing these candidates in elections and the public sphere is vital for displaying our solidarity with transgender people and especially the youth whose safety and well-being will be most impacted if individuals such as Boschy and Pfahl win,” they told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

“People need to connect with candidates in their zones and ask tough questions, they need to support and organize with 2SLGBTQ+ community groups on the ground in challenging these candidates, and they need to vote. Too often we ignore these important but smaller races but transgender youth cannot afford our ignorance anymore.”

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