In an astonishing request made to the University of Toronto this year, student Wongene Daniel Kim asked to drop his class in the Women & Gender Studies Institute because he was uncomfortable being in a classroom full of women, reports the Toronto Star.
“I’m generally a shy person, especially around women, and it would have been a burden if I had had to choose a group for group work," he tells the Star. Kim stayed in the course but never attended class, lost the 15 per cent attendance mark and did poorly on assignments.
After the professor denied his request, Kim took the case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) with a complaint about accommodation based on gender, explains an editorial by editor Glenn Kauth in the Law Times.
According to the HRTO documents, Kim could complete 85 per cent of the class without attending in person, but felt his grades were lower on his assignments due to his gender. He also accused the professor of discrimination against him because of his race.
In the end, the HRTO ruled against Kim, denying, among other things, his claim that the women in the class would not want to interact with him, as "he never gave the class, or the women, a chance."
"While it’s unfortunate he was the only man to sign up for the class, it’s no surprise the majority of the students were women," writes Kauth. "And given the likely nature of the course material, it shouldn't have mattered anyway."
Earlier this year, York University came under fire after a male student requested religious accommodation for separation away from female students in a controversy that many felt put more weight on religion than gender equality. The professor denied the request, despite pressure from the university, and the student eventually completed the work as originally assigned.