Usually in these videos I rant about sex, gender and ideology and other topics about why no one can seem to get along these days.
But today, I want to talk about someone who, from my experience, has the gift of getting along with everyone, and that is my friend Celina Close.
Celina is a Human Resources professional, a Yoga Instructor and mother of two in Halton Region, and she’s currently running for School Board Trustee at the Halton Region District School Board.
Halton has a by-election coming up very soon to replace a trustee who stepped down from the board. I was in attendance at the board meeting where this by-election was called and am so excited to see that my friend Celina is running as a candidate to fill this position!
For those of you unfamiliar with Halton District School Board, they are this school board west of Toronto that’s been in international headlines this past school year because of a situation related to a transgender teacher, some very large prosthetic breasts, and the refusal of senior board administration to enact even a basic dress code for faculty. I’ve actually spoken to this board at the request of local parents who asked for my assistance in presenting the case that it’s entirely possible to establish a dress code that excludes sexualized attire without infringing on the rights of transgender people.
You know, saying that out loud just sounds so obvious. Of course, that’s possible. But our political conversations have gotten so loopy that I get to be the hero just for stating the obvious.
So as mentioned, I couldn’t be more thrilled that my friend Celina has taken the bold step of placing her name on the Halton ballot. School boards have tremendous influence over the operations of our school system and Halton has—struggled—to keep education the focus of their system for the last little while.
(Did you notice how civilly I put that. Maybe I should be a politician as well)
I could go on at lengths about Celina and why I believe she would be a wonderful addition to this board. I met Celina through my involvement in Halton and she’s the kind of person who gets right down to business. She has a kind demeanor that draws people in, she has the tact to navigate complex situations amongst differing opinions, and she’s a workhorse with a mentally to get shit done while others stand on the sidelines.
This past weekend I spoke with Celina and asked her how she would navigate the challenging identity politics conversations that are currently playing out across our school boards. I think it’s so easy for people to take hardline positions on these divisive issues and I was blown away by her response. Here’s how she assessed the situation:
As someone who is transgender, I am acutely aware of the toxicity of the ideological conversations we are currently having in our school boards. Celina can cut through that because she understands that fear is driving both sides of these divisive conversations. Can you imagine how different our board meetings might be if all of our Trustees embodied that sort of good faith interest in their constituents?
Despite how profound and genuine Celina is to those who know her personally, some people have started labelling her as transphobic. Why? Because she values giving consideration to all families and perspectives rather than just one particular narrative.
Now, I’ll remind you that I am transgender, Celina knows this, and we get along great together. I know she’s not transphobic and I feel completely at home around here, but I wanted to get her sense of how she perceives of these divisive conversations in our schools. How would she handle the complexity of identity politics if elected? This is what she told me:
See, Celina understands that our public education system needs to be collaborative and inclusive. She recognizes that this begins by collaborating with parents rather than working against them. Celina champions accommodating diverse perspectives that encompass all senses of that word, rather than prioritizing any particular diverse perspectives and attenuating others. That is real inclusion.
As a transgender parent, I can get behind Celina’s message 100% This is why I endorse Celina Close for Burlington Ward 1 and Ward 2 Trustee.
Before I end this, I want to encourage everyone in Burlington Wards 1 and 2 to get out and vote. By-elections often have an incredibly low turnout so every vote really does matter. I’ve had the privilege of connecting with a number of the current HDSB Trustees and I truly believe Celina would be a great addition and would serve our children wonderfully.
You are so fortunate to have this opportunity for a by-election in Halton. We are currently replacing two trustees in Waterloo Region where I live, but we don’t get to have an election because our Trustees have decided to make appointments to fill their vacancy rather than rely on the democratic process.
Technically this is something that they can do and no rules are being broken. But I’ll remind you the principle of democracy is representation by election. I am so thankful that Halton is following this precedent and giving the residents of Burlington the opportunity to have their voice heard.
The advance poll will be open tomorrow, May 24th and election day will be this coming Monday, May 29th. Thank you again for running Celina and I look forward to seeing the election results.