A college is drawing criticism for posting a job where only teacher applicants who are women, transgenders, or non-binary can apply.
Canada’s University of Waterloo has an opening and is looking for teacher applicants. This is nothing out of the ordinary as job openings, especially for teachers, are seen across the Great White North as well as the United States. But what makes this particular request for teacher applicants controversial is who they are asking for to fill the opening.
The University’s job opening is for a CRC Tier II Chair in Climate Change, Water or Future Cities, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Environment. The job vacancy, though, is only open to those “qualified individuals who self-identify as women, transgender, non-binary, or two-spirit.” The job request’s teacher applicants will also be a Ph.D. scholar in “geography, earth and/or environmental science and sustainability, planning or a related discipline.” They will need to produce “evidence of an active research program with an emphasis on climate and/or climate change science, water science, and sustainability, or future cities.”
Most of us can define women, transgender, and non-binary, but two-spirit? According to the LGBTQ Health website, a two-spirit teacher applicant is defined as 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.” Also, according to the website, two-spirit might also include “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, genderqueer, cross-dressers or who have multiple gender identities.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that Two-spirit is a gender-variant coming from Native American culture. “Traditionally, Native American two-spirit people were male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two-spirit people,” the department says. They give a much deeper explanation on their website. The term “two-spirit” was first used by Myra Laramee at the 1990 Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference.
There were concerns when the University posted for teacher applicants that would fall under these four specific categories, that discrimination issues could come into play. The university is a public institution, prohibiting it from discrimination based on gender, but the University says that this process of selection follows the Ontario Human Rights Commission guidelines that address the “underrepresentation of individuals from equity-deserving groups.” Section 14 under “special programs and the Human Rights Code” says no discrimination is found if the program is designed to “relieve hardship or economic disadvantage, help disadvantaged people or groups to achieve, or try to achieve, equal opportunity or help eliminate discrimination.”
A self-identification form is required for teacher applicants in order to make sure they fall into one of the four categories. “Because this is a special opportunity for a specific member of the four designated groups, applicant self-identification information will be used for the purposes of screening and consideration,” the university said via Fox News. You can see part of the teacher “Applicant Equity Survey” below.
The teacher applicant best qualified (from those four gender categories) for the position will be tasked with “putting together an innovative program of high-quality research.” This program will have to bring in external funding and also bring in highly qualified and diverse graduate students.