ALBERTA

Larry Kowalczyk Stands By Comments That Transgender Students Have 'Mental Disorder'

09/17/2015 05:58 EDT | Updated 09/18/2015 10:59 EDT

Alberta's education minister has made it clear that the Edmonton Catholic School Board had better get on-side with inclusive policies for transgender students, despite the recent controversial comments made by trustee Larry Kowalczyk.

Kowalczyk told CBC News Tuesday that he considers transgender people the same as those with a "mental disorder."

"I see that as a mental disorder, my faith sees it as a mental disorder,” he said, comparing the condition to schizophrenia or a dissociative disorder.

"My stand is with that of the church... God has not made a mistake in the gender of me, or you, or anyone else."

Kowalczyk made the comments in an interview hours before a rancorous debate broke out at the board's Tuesday meeting, over which washroom a seven-year-old transgender girl can use.

The student wants to use the girl's washroom instead of a washroom designated as gender-neutral.

Kowalczyk called into the meeting, and argued against adding specific policies to protect transgender students, reports The Edmonton Sun.

"Every time we do not acquiesce to (transgender students’) demands, we will be called discriminatory," he said.

From there, according to The Sun, the night dissolved into a shouting match, leaving some in tears.

In the end, it was decided that voting on the policy would be delayed until October.

Trustee Patricia Grell, who brought forward the motion, called the delay in voting "very unfortunate."

"Another month goes by now and this little girl has no assurance that she will be protected... that she will be included in her school," she told the Edmonton Journal.

The acrimonious meeting was addressed by Education Minister Dave Eggen Wednesday, who warned that there will be consequences for the board if they do not create an inclusive policy for transgender students.

"We are monitoring the situation very closely and like I say, I found some of the comments last night to be entirely unacceptable and quite disturbing.

"I have lots of mechanisms at my disposal to escalate if people don't get their acts together," he said.


Eggen did not say what action the NDP government would be prepared to take.

Kowalczyk, however, is standing by his comments and has begun circulating a document defending his statements, which several people shared on Twitter.


"My Catholic commitment remains to respect the dignity of every child," he wrote.

With files from the Canadian Press

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