Anti-gay counsellor suspended again

Quesnel School Teacher, Kempling is off the job again,

Kempling is a High School counsellor in the Quesnel School District, located eight hours drive north of Vancouver. He is no stranger to controversy and seems to be hell bent on creating it. He has a case going before the Human Rights tribunal and another to the BC Court of Appeal, both respect to being suspended.

In both instances he has filed the cases based on discrimination due to his religious views. Kempling believes homosexuality is wrong, a sin and as a school counsellor he should be able to convey these views to youth he sees.

His three month suspension this time is a result of a letter to the editor opposing same-sex marriage. Kempling claims he has a right to speak out against same-sex marriage and I would agree if he were in a different job. Kempling holds a community responsibility as a counsellor and must understand that his views on this issue could seriously harm a young persons well being.

I want to say "Thank you!" to the Quesnel School Board for suspending Kempling, this time for three months. His duties as a counsellor require that all who see him can feel safe. If you are a youth questioning your sexual identity or aware you are gay, Mr. Kemplings views and approach could cause serious emotional and perhaps physical harm to the young person he is counselling.

Kempling told LifeSite news, a christian news service
"I am most concerned about the young children with serious emotional needs, who will be deprived of their counsellor at a time when they need help most. Counselling, much more than teaching, involves a close personal relationship where trust develops over time. I'm really very worried about their well-being."
Seems Mr. Kempling cares little for the gay youths he is charged with looking out for. In my opinion, the young people of Quesnel are much better off without a counsellor if this is the kind of attitude and support available. Mr. Kempling's views are abusive to the children and youth he purports to support. The Quesnel School District has been extremely patient with him. I would have fired him.


Maleable said...

Rick, I want to thank you for your excellent blog which I read every morning. It always gets me up to speed on what is happening pertaining to LGTB issues and I really appreciate your comments with which I totally agree.

Rick Barnes said...

Hey Guy,

Thanks for the encouragement and kind words!

Salut and In Pride


HDcanuck said...

i agree maleable... rick u've done a great job with this site!!

Anonymous said...

It's sad that the state has embedded itself so far into civil society that everyday people fear getting fired for expressing their opinions. But I guess those of you who support the judicialization of society don't mind that.

HDcanuck said...

Anonymous... this is about more than opinion, it is about the refusal to carry out the responsibilities of employment as determined by the employer; in this case to provide supportive counselling to ALL students. Lets assume that a school counsellor was, like the Pope, morally opposed to giving a sexually active student (of any persuasion) condoms or advice on safer sex when asked to do so by the student, and against the policy of the Board and the Ministry of Education. Few people would argue that such a counsellor would be able to ignore policy on moral grounds. Why is the present case any different? Because it involves homosexuality, and thus homophobia. Cheers!

HDcanuck said...

ps, what is the "judicialization of society"? Is that like "activist judges"?

Anonymous said...

HD Canuck: there's a difference between uttering one's opinion in public versus failure to carry out one's duty as school counsellor. The former is about freedom of opinion; the latter is about fulfilling one's employment duties. Consider the example of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. Personally he has come out in support of supporting the rights of gay people in the Anglican church. As holder of the office of Archbishop of Canterbury, he sided against the North American communions over the issue of same-sex blessings. He's sufficiently mature to distinguish personal opinion from office, and so, it appears, are his fellow parishioners.

You deny the human possibilty to distinguish between office-holder and personal opinion. This is unfortunate. A liberal democracy depends on distinctions like this. Otherwise you end up with a society of enforced belief.

The regular posters to this blog are just as bad as the theocrats in terms of how much power you're out for.

And yes, this would be an example of the judicialization of society, of which activist judges are merely a symptom. I should also add that one can just as easily have conservative activist judges (e.g., US Supreme Court in 1930s; some would argue that Rehnquist and Scalia are activist conservatives).

HDcanuck said...

Anonymous: Your argument is quite compelling at face-value, but would you hold to it in situations that do not involve "sexuality"? For example, would you hold that a history teacher (or any teacher) could communicate to his/her class/individual students that the Jews are an evil race hell-bent on controlling the world economy? Or that non-white persons are inferior to whites? These are not rarely held opinions. Would you hold that if a teacher/counsellor expressed these kinds of views to their students that they ought not be disciplined, or dismissed should they not refrain from doing so? There is a difference between holding an opinion and expressing it in situations where those opinions will cause harm to others, such as in the case of a "special relationship" such as teacher-student. I can see the situation now: a teacher believes Native Canadians are intellectually inferior to Canadians of European origin and expresses that in a local newspaper. That teacher also says that they would express that view to Native students in their trusted care. Would you argue that if this teacher were let go, that they too would be a victim of our judicialized society?

Rick Barnes said...

Dear HDCanuck,

Well said, thank you for that. I am a little close to the Quesnel situation. I went to school there and was subjected to fag and homo comments, even when I did not know myself what I was.

I did not go to a counsellor as it was really taboo in school in the mid seventies. I know if I had read the letters to the editor written by Kempling, I would not have gone to see him, even if I was looking for information.

Kempling's letters are not those of a private citizen, they are of a man charged with counselling children and youth on very personal matters.

If these kids disclose to him they are gay, he will be offering advice that has been declared invalid and likely harmful by the Canadian and American Psychology Associations.

Anonymous said...

HD Canuck - I think it's important to keep performance of teacher's duties (and those of school counsellor) distinct from the person's activities as citizen (including writing letters to the newspaper).

If the teacher writes in his letter that he's going to break school policy and say these things in class and as a school counsellor, then, yes, he's in breach of the conditions of his employment and should be fired.

The same thing goes for a teacher in a Catholic or other religious school who breaks her own school policy in class.

The act of accepting a job is that you've agreed to the conditions of performance for that job. It's a contract.

At the same time, as a citizen such people should have the freedom to speak their mind on school policy in a public forum where they meet others (including those who disagree with them)as citizens, not as employees of the state. If they do meet as employees of the state, then citizenship becomes meaningless. We become, to borrow Burke's phrase, pensioners instead of citizens.

What skews this debate is the very embeddedness of the state in the personal lives of Canadians, to the extent that we're afraid to utter politically incorrect (however defined) opinions for fear of what it might do for job prospects.

This why, for instance, the great classical liberals like John Locke and John Stuart Mill (whose own On Liberty is closer to Canadian liberalism in many ways) opposed public education - consent of the governed is meaningless unless the governed have an autonomous space in which to form opinions. By definition, public education in Canada is about indoctrination.

HDcanuck said...

Anonymous: Re: your first two paragraphs in your last entry -- I believe that is just what happened in this case, which is why the disciplinary action has occurred. We are not too far apart. I would not say that a person should be held accountable in an employment setting for things they communicated in a public setting, unless it can be shown that those communications impact their ability to do their job effectively. However, where the negative job performance impact can be demonstrated, consequences are reasonable. This is not to say that the speech per se should be punished, but that in such circumstances one would need to give up either the speech or the job. That said, what do you think of criminal law and "hate communications"...

Anonymous said...

Dear HD Canuck,

I'm generally quite uncomfortable about hate-crimes legislation for 2 reasons:

1) "hate" is too vague to be a useful legal category, and

2) criminal law already accounts for intent and motivations. Adding hate on top of that simply criminalizes one's inner emotions instead of the act that criminal law already addresses.

For a good treatment on this, check out Andrew Sullivan's writings, especially this one:

Also, what standard of evidence to you require to make someone's public statements undermine his/her duties as a teacher?

Consider this very real scenario: a priest opposes the Catholic church's stance on homosexuality and counsels parishioners to ignore it and he writes letters to the newspaper stating as such. They remove him from his duties. According to your reasoning about the teacher in BC, you should agree that the priest should be removed because he has broken his conditions of employment/calling.

Do you agree?

HDcanuck said...

Anonymous... The standard has to apply equally; if the priest in your example has broken the employment contract by acting in such a way that is contrary to the contract, or not doing something required by the contract, then yes. As with any contract, termination would have to rely on breach of a fundamental term. The priest (or the teacher) has the right to sue for damages or reinstatement if they believe the contract has been broken without just cause. This has been the case,it is still the case and I don't see why it would not continue to be the case.

Anonymous said...

You may be interested to know that the school board has been unable to find a single homosexual student who was negatively impacted by what I said in my off the job time. I would view it as unethical to offer counsel that was not in the best interests of the client. I have also had a gay student return to see me after graduation to thank me for counselling I provided. Despite the lack of evidence I've been disciplined for something that might happen, not for anything that did happen.
Chris Kempling