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LGBTQ2S+ advocates raise concerns about Ottawa school trustee candidates

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Standing in front of Robert E. Wilson Public School in Ottawa, Shannon Boschy did not mince words.

"Biology exists. We are sexually dimorphic, we are either male or female biologically, but we are teaching in schools that that’s not the case; that we make up gender and that’s extremely damaging," Boschy said.

"The belief that boys can become girls and girls can become boys is not a belief shared by the majority of society," Boschy added.

Boschy, an Ottawa Carleton District School Board Trustee candidate for Zone 6, is one of two candidates being criticized by LGBTQ2S+ advocates for alleged transphobic remarks on social media.

The other candidate receiving backlash for her tweets is Chanel Pfahl, an OCDSB Trustee Candidate in Zone 8.

Both candidates frequently speak out against gender-affirming medical care, such as puberty blockers and transition surgery.

"These views are harmful on adults who are transgender. I can’t imagine the impact that will have on OCDSB students who are trans," Christian Wright, the lead coordinator of Rainbow Ottawa said.

Both Pfahl and Boschy tell CTV News Ottawa they do not believe gender identity should be taught in Ottawa schools.

In an emailed statement, Pfahl 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."

But transgender activists say teaching gender identity and creating safe spaces for students is crucial to their wellbeing.

"Transgender youth need affirmation, they need love, and they need care to be successful; to be happy," they added. 

The concerns come as a major American hospital says it is facing online attacks for providing gender-affirming care.

Boston Children's Hospital says it has faced a "large volume" of threats of violence for offering that kind of care.

Boschy has previously tweeted questioning the care the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario provides to children with gender dysphoria.

Health experts refute the criticism, saying children with gender dysphoria are at a greater risk for mental health complications, like suicide and depression; adding the care they provide is vital. 

"We can make the lives of these kids and the families by giving them the care they need, other people can mind their business. It’s not their kid," Dr. Jason Brophy, an Infectious Diseases Physician at CHEO said.

"We should be talking about these topics in school, it doesn’t make sense to say that we shouldn’t, because the harms that are being talked about aren’t there, but the harms of not talking about it are," Brophy added.

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