A Canadian public university is offering a new tenured position to a faculty member who identifies as “women, transgender, non-binary, or two-spirit.”
The Canadian institution known as the University of Waterloo is offering the position to one of its Environment Faculty. The school is looking to fill “a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Tier 2 Canada Research Chair and tenure track position at the rank of Assistant Professor.”
The university appears to be focused on becoming more diverse and representative of minority groups. In the advertisement for the position, the school said that it intended to “address the underrepresentation of individuals from equity deserving groups among our Canada Research Chairs.”
According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the public university is permitted to “choose to develop ‘special programs’ to help disadvantaged groups improve their situation.” The commission goes on to state its protection of such programs, regardless of public opinion, saying that it “protects these programs from attack by people who do not experience the same disadvantage.”
In the university’s advertisement for the tenured position, they state that it “is a special opportunity for a specific member of the four designated groups” and that the applicant’s “self-identification information will be used for the purposes of screening and consideration.”
According to a Canadian LGBTQ health group, the term “two-spirit” refers to:
“a person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit and is used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. As an umbrella term it may encompass same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, gender queer, cross-dressers or who have multiple gender identities.”
Canada’s government has placed a significant focus on gender and race equality, especially within education. The move by the University of Waterloo is another indicator of the focus inside the country’s public education system.
There have been multiple programs and studies developed to mark the inclusion of various genders, gender identities, and sexual identities within the public school system of Canada. One such study commissioned to expand the impact of sexual identity and gender in public schools is the Every Teacher Project.
The initiative was focused on “LGBTQ-inclusive education” and included the development of a toolkit to aid educators in the issues of the sexual and gender identity groups within the educational system. The toolkit consists of recommendations for every level of public education, such as highlighting faculty who are part of the minority groups.
The focus on gender and sexual identity follows Canada’s intense focus on racial equality within the educational system. Under Bill 67, the nation’s school system is focused on promoting Critical Race Theory (CRT). The Racial Equity in Education Systems Act is attempting to make the ideas of Critical Race Theory a requirement in education and move the nation toward the goal of being “anti-racist.”
Both issues have been a flashpoint of concern in the United States Educational system. Some of the most intense debate has been focused on the state of Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation to restrict both CRT and sexual education in the classroom for the youngest students.