The complainant, Mary Spensley, disputed the accuracy of a story about an LGBTQ teaching tool created by the Alberta Teachers’ Association. She was also concerned that hostile politicians were using the information to attack the toolkit. The CBC News stories were accurate, and journalists cannot refrain from reporting controversy because of the way it might be used.

COMPLAINT

You were concerned that CBC News coverage regarding a resource guide for the Alberta Teachers’ Association was misrepresented in a news article published in November 2016. It was entitled “Should drag shows be used as a teaching tool in Alberta schools?” It addressed the controversy around a newly-published guide and toolkit. The ATA described the document as a guide to “safe and caring discussions about sexual and gender minorities.” The lengthy document provided suggestions for activities in the classroom, as well as language that would be more inclusive and acknowledged fluid gender identification. One of the words suggested, instead of “boys and girls” was “comrade.” You think words were taken out of context, “thus twisting the meaning of the original document, and misrepresenting the word ‘comrade’ when the word used in the original document was ‘campers’.” You could not find the word “comrade” in the document.

You also believed that the CBC story, published on November 1st, 2016, relied on an article in the Toronto Sun for its information, thereby perpetrating an inaccurate representation of the guide.

Your concern was that both the Sun’s article and the CBC publication were giving fuel to those who opposed the approach espoused in the document:

We are living in a time when Canadian politicians and their supporters are using Trump style tactics. When you publish erroneous articles that they can use to fearmonger and spread division, you are contributing to this unhealthy political atmosphere. Why are you publishing stories that have clearly been taken from a news source such as the Toronto Sun?

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

Paul Moore, the Executive Producer at CBC Edmonton, replied to your concerns. He said that your email alerted the team to the fact that the original PRISM document has been updated and altered since the news article about the toolkit was published a year ago. A new article was written and published to note the changes. “Alberta LGBTQ teaching resource revised after controversy” noted the alterations and linked to the updated document which no longer suggests “comrades” as a gender-neutral alternative, and featured some changes to other aspects of the guide. He added that the original story published a year earlier is once again linked to the original document.

Continue reading this on the CBC website, where it was first published.