Dr. Kristopher Wells’ influence within education, politics, sports, media and academia is truly remarkable. Consider some of his contributions:
Youth & K-12 Education
- Leader of professional development sessions for K-12 educators on topics such as diversity, inclusion and supporting LGBTQ youth
- Author of the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Teacher’s Guide for Gay-Straight Alliances
- Co-founder of Camp FYrefly, “Canada’s only national leadership retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, intersexed, queer, questioning, and allied youth,” which has now also expanded to a Grade 7-12 school program
- Contributor to several of the research studies and publications listed as resources
in Alberta Education’s Guidelines document (pages 16-18)
- Cited by several politicians as being a key influence in the promotion and content of Bill 10 (Hansard for March 10, 2015, pages 541, 545 and 548)
- First person to have formal audience with PC Premier Jim Prentice after Prentice was sworn in as premier. In a Global News interview, Dr. Wells said “the fact that this was the first meeting on his very first day I think can’t be underestimated. It signals an important message.”
- Member of the national Trans Inclusion in Sport Expert Working Group, which is completing a guide for Canadian sport organizations “to assist them in developing policies and practices for the full inclusion of transgender individuals in all levels of sport, including schools”
- Co-founder of Pride Tape
Academia & Media
- Faculty Director at the Institute for Sexual Minorities Studies and Services (iSMSS), reported to be “home to one of the world’s most influential and internationally recognized centres for the advancement of gay rights.” (Oct 8, 2014 Global News)
- Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta, where he inspires and influences our society’s future leaders
- Frequently interviewed by media as an expert authority on any issue related to sexual orientation and gender identity
Yet, in the midst of all his accomplishments and his fervent championing of human rights, it is astounding to witness the profound disrespect that Dr Wells freely and unapologetically parades through the public sphere.
Depiction of religious groups
Not only do many Albertans find this image profoundly offensive on its own, but it is made even more disturbing because it is an altered version of the original image created to remember the 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians executed by ISIS in Libya in February 2015:
After a backlash on Twitter, Dr Wells unapologetically posted the following:
The following dialogue ensued when Dr Wells was questioned on why he deleted the original tweet. Note the only apology he provided related to the image’s “authenticity”:
Unfortunately, this complete lack of respect was not an isolated incident.
In March, an Albertan blogger shared her concerns regarding a comic that Dr Wells posted on Twitter, entitling her post “Dr. Kris Wells: Inclusiveness expert or anti-religion propagator?”
“this clearly shows his alignment with the hateful organization that came up with this comic and that his objective is not to prevent the bullying of the LGBTQ community, but rather to spread hatred and to bully the Christian community and persons with any sort of sexual morality that does not meet up with his own set of ideologies. Dr. Wells’ demands for ‘inclusive’ policies in Alberta schools clearly don’t extend to anyone who disagrees with his way of thinking in terms of sexuality or religion.”
I encourage you to read more from her post by clicking the image below:
Mischaracterization of parental concerns
Dr. Wells’ public display of disrespect extends to other groups as well.
On May 14th Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) sponsored tremendously successful simultaneous peaceful rallies at the Legislature (Edmonton) and McDougall Centre (Calgary), with 4300+ in attendance who respectfully voiced concerns regarding parental involvement in education.
However, Dr. Wells – who was not even present at the rally to hear for himself the perspectives that were shared – promoted an alarmingly inaccurate characterization of the thousands of Albertans who participated in the event:
But he didn’t stop there. According to a June 13th Edmonton Metro article about the Mayor’s Pride Brunch, which took place the morning after the horrific Orlando shooting, Dr. Wells again made reference to those who attended the PCE rallies:
Kris Wells knew he had a captive audience Sunday at the Mayor’s Pride Brunch and he didn’t hesitate to use the opportunity… Many speakers alluded to the shooting but chose to concentrate on the celebration of youth. Wells did, too, but couldn’t resist pouncing ever-so-noticeably on some in the crowd, including leaders from political parties whose members sometime run off-message when it comes to strong support for the LGBTQ community. “We can’t forget that people still come to legislature to protest against the right of LGBTQ youth to be safe in their classrooms,”
…. “Just look at the legislature and look at those parties that still refuse to or won’t support the minister of education’s LGBTQ guidelines, or the parents groups that are protesting against the right of LGBTQ youth to be safe in schools,” he said.
“These kinds of messages of intolerance, prejudice and discrimination are what spawn into hate and what turn into violence.”
Notice that while other speakers respectfully chose to “concentrate on the celebration of youth”, Dr. Wells seemed to use the tragedy as a platform to advance a political agenda and to publicly malign parent groups.
In fact, his comments seem to imply an offensive and outrageous illogical association between the violence of the Orlando massacre and Albertans’ concerns about parental involvement in education (which he erroneously misrepresents as protesting “against the right of LGBTQ youth to be safe”).
How can anyone of such tremendous influence within our government, media and the education of our youth be permitted to publicly misrepresent and vilify groups of people in our province and yet still be considered an “expert” on respect for diversity, inclusion and providing a “welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment” in Alberta schools?
And why is it that mainstream media will devote days to exploring a supposed endorsement of a “homophobic” Facebook comment by Derek Fildebrandt, yet refuse to even acknowledge the repeatedly disrespectful public behaviour of an “anti-bullying” expert?
Now that the Minister of Education has confirmed that sexual orientation and gender identity will be part of the new curriculum, Dr. Wells is eagerly offering his expert assistance.
As electors, parents and taxpayers of Alberta, we are each considered stakeholders in our publicly funded education system.
And we must demand better.
We all have a responsibility to ensure that the education of K-12 students in our province is undertaken by those who are most qualified -and that includes the consultants and experts who work behind the scenes to develop the policies, legislation and curriculum which shape our next generation.
I encourage Albertans to communicate with the Minister of Education to insist that his office exercises wisdom, discretion and transparency in the selection of those responsible for positions of influence and authority within our education system (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 780 427 5010; Twitter: @davideggenAB).
Remind the Minister of Education that those who malign groups of people, while claiming to protect others, are not defending human rights – they are simply trading discrimination of one group for another. And this type of behaviour is not a solution to hate and bullying. It is a root cause.
Albertans must insist that those in positions of influence within our K-12 education system are committed to true equality – an equality that demonstrates that all people are equally worthy of respect.