A male University of Toronto student filed a claim with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal accusing his Women and Gender Studies professor of discriminating against him when she failed him for never having attended the course.
Wongene Daniel Kim claims that Professor Sarah Trimble’s course was the only one that would fit in his schedule, but when he arrived on the first day, he discovered he was the only male in the class.
“I felt anxiety,” Kim toldThe Toronto Star. “I didn’t expect it would be all women and it was a small classroom and about 40 women were sort of sitting in a semicircle and the thought of spending two hours every week sitting there for the next four months was overwhelming.”
So he left the classroom, and never returned, citing the fact that he is “a generally shy person, especially around women.” He remained enrolled in the course, however, and asked Professor Trimble to waive the 15 percent of his grade that was based on participation and attendance.
As was her right, she refused.
When he asked her to change his grade at the end of the semester, she again refused.
Kim then filed a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal claiming she had discriminated against him because he was male.
Kim claims he was unaware of how poorly he was performing in the class because Professor Trimble handed back assignments during class. “We live in a digital era, why couldn’t she have posted the marks online?” Kim said.
“I believe if you want to attract more males to these courses, you have to work with them. My request for accommodation was reasonable.”
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal believed differently, however: “The applicant has not satisfied me that his claimed discomfort in a classroom of women requires accommodation under the [Ontario Human Rights] Code. He admitted that his discomfort is based on his own ‘individual preference’ as a shy person.”
Kim also provided no evidence of being “excluded, disadvantaged or treated unequally on the basis of his gender,” in part because his discomfort was based on “mere speculation as he never gave the class, or the women, a chance.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.