Opinion

BC teacher suspended after homophobic prank on student

A teacher in Langley, BC, was suspended for his insensitive prank. But was the punishment too light?

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A British Columbia high school teacher has been suspended after playing a homophobic prank on a grade 11 student.

Last September, Daniel Mark Ogloff, a metal fabrication and machining instructor at Aldergrove Community Secondary School in Langley, stuck a piece of masking tape with the words “I’m gay” on a male student’s coat. Ogloff allowed his other sudents to discretely take pictures while Ogloff gestured for them not to say anything to the victim. The district has suspended him for 10 weeks without pay and the BC Commissioner of Teacher Regulation suspended his teaching certificate for two weeks.

The incident is so homophobic in nature and so wildly immature that it’s hard to imagine that a grown adult, let alone a class of high school students, would find it even remotely funny. To add further insult to injury, it’s not Ogloff’s first offense. According to the Globe and Mail, he’s received warnings about inappropriate comments he’s made to students on at least two other occasions.

Ogloff defended his prank as merely “horseplay.” The district declared that he acted “unprofessionally, disrespectfully and without regard for students’ physical and emotional safety” before handing down his suspension.

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I hate to even call it a simple prank—it feels much more sinister in its intent. We don’t know how the incident affected the student at the centre of the story, nor do we know what the administration later did to assure students that their school is a place of learning and tolerance. I can only hope they did something to show students, teachers and parents that intolerance is not welcome at Aldergrove Community Secondary School.

My son just started high school this year, and I’d hate to think that he might encounter an ignorant teacher. I know that teachers aren’t perfect people—we all have flaws. But I think Ogloff should be properly educated on what it means to be a community leader and positive influence in the lives of children.

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.

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