In November 2017 at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, Teaching Assistant Lindsay Shepherd had allowed a discussion in her classroom about gender pronouns and she showed a 3-minute public television TVOntario debate on the topic.
In a meeting with three of her superiors, Shepherd was brought to tears and reprimanded for having allowed the discussion. She was told that students had complained about her. She was told that she had created a toxic climate, creating an unsafe learning environment, engaged in gendered violence, and that her actions were in violation of Canadian human rights laws.
As news of the incident spread, Shepherd was accused of being an alt-right conservative and ridiculed for being transphobic. The incident sparked an international controversy and was discussed in Canadian Parliament. Shepherd was at risk of losing her job, having her career destroyed, and forever having her character besmirched in national media.
In a statement on Monday (18 Dec 2017), University President Deborah MacLatchy issued a formal apology to Sheperd after an internal fact-finding investigation determined that there actually had been no student complaints about Shepherd.
CBC Video Interview with Shepherd
On Wednesday, 20 Dec 2017, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) interviewed Shepherd about the incident and the news of being exonerated.
University President’s Response
In the video below from 24 Nov 2017, Laurier President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah MacLatchy addresses how Lindsay Shepherd was treated.
- “Extended: Excerpts from secretly recorded meeting between Wilfrid Laurier University grad student and faculty,” GlobalNews.ca, 17 Nov 2017.
- “Jordan Peterson, Lindsay Shepherd and Wilfrid Laurier,” YouTube series of video clips, and audio from the academic disciplinary meeting, The Social Engineer, 26 Nov 2017.
- “Laurier’s apology to Lindsay Shepherd was hardly a win for free speech,” CBC Canada, Emmett Macfarlane, 22 Nov 2017.
- “Laurier apologizes to TA Lindsay Shepherd after she aired debate clip on gender-neutral pronouns,” The Globe and Mail, 21 Nov 2017.
- “Laurier President discusses university’s century-old commitment to freedom of expression” Wilfrid Laurier University, Laurier President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah MacLatchy, 24 Nov 2017.
- “Lindsay Shepherd Controversy: Students Never Complained About TA, Laurier Finds,” Huffington Post, Shawn Jeffords, 18 Dec 2017.
- “Lindsay Shepherd LIVE: Free Speech Battle with Laurier University,” The Rubin Report, video interview with Lindsay Shepherd, 1 Dec 2017.
- “Neither Wilfrid Laurier University’s methods nor teaching assistant’s debate helped trans people,” The Star, Shree Paradkar, 21 Nov 2017.
- “No formal complaint against Wilfrid Laurier student Lindsay Shepherd, lawyer confirms,” 8 Dec 2017,
- “President’s statement re: independent fact-finder report,” Laurier University, President Deborah MacLatchy, 18 Dec 2017.
- “Wilfrid Laurier admits it mishandled Lindsay Shepherd academic freedom case,” Global News, 18 Dec 2017.
- “Wilfrid Laurier Exonerates Lindsay Shepherd, We Can All Move On Now,” Vice Media, Mack Lamoureux, 19 Dec 2017.
- “Wilfrid Laurier University exonerates TA Lindsay Shepherd,” The Globe and Mail, Simona Chiose, 18 Dec 2017.
- “Why Wilfrid Laurier University’s president apologized to Lindsay Shepherd,” CBC, 24 Nov 2017.
NOTE: Retractions, acquittals, and exonerations typically don’t end up as front page news. So, we like to feature them here on our website to help set the record straight when people have been falsely accused or maligned. The story above is an example.