The Lacombe Pride Society is calling for Lacombe-Ponoka Candidate, Jennifer Johnson to resign from her candidacy after a leaked recording circulates social media. The clip contains homophobic and transphobic comments in which she compares transgender children to feces in food.
“No person running for office, regardless of political ideology, should be able to do this to anyone. She should apologize and step down immediately,” said Jonathan Luscombe, Director of Lacombe’s Pride Society.
In the voice clip, Johnson mentions introducing litterboxes in classrooms at local schools in the area. Introducing litterboxes in schools for children who ‘identify as cats’ has become known as a harmful hoax directing hate towards LGBTQ2IA+ students. Luscombe explains that there is a dark truth to the rumour.
“It comes from the US, where they have kitty litter in the corner of schools because of active shooters. If there's an active shooter drill and the classroom locks down and the kid has to use the washroom, that is what they use.”
Luscombe has concerns that comments like Johnson’s will open the door for more hateful rhetoric.
“These things are completely false and open up these kids to bullying and harassment and just false accusations that have nothing to do with their representation,” they said.
The Lacombe Pride Society is new to the community this year and has just began to offer programing. Next week, they will be offering a Parent/Caregiver Support Meeting for the parents of LGBTQ2IA+ children. Next month, they will also be offering an open house for people to learn more about the organization. As programming moves forward full steam ahead, Luscombe worries about what the outcome of the election could mean for the Lacombe Pride Society.
“If she was to get in, someone with that rhetoric, it will put us down. It will push us back,” Luscombe added.
As the Director of the Lacombe Pride Society, Luscombe contacted Johnson earlier in her candidacy for her stance on LGBTQ2IA+ issues but was met with no response.
“She checked it and left it. So, I have no statement of where she stands with LGBTQ issues... As a major political party in our province and for you to ignore the only pride society in Lacombe and say, ‘well, you're not worth my time for a response’ is quite dehumanizing.”
Since the leaked recording has gone viral, Johnson has issued apologies to local news outlets and on her own social media.
“This morning I had a productive conversation with the Transgender Equality Society of Alberta (TESA) and I am willing to meet with any community group to educate myself on their concerns.
My intention is to earn my seat back on the United Conservative team, but should you give me the opportunity to be your MLA, I will continue to work tirelessly to stand up for the residents of Lacombe-Ponoka and represent you to the best of my ability at the legislature,” said Johnson in a post on her Facebook page.
Luscombe says she’s made no effort to contact the Lacombe Pride Society, so far.
"This statement is not an apology. It is not a a movement forward. It is her saying I'm just talking and then I still want my seat back."
They would like to see more actions in support of the pride community and involvement within those communities.
“When I look around me and I see my queer brothers and sisters and they just are appalled. They're crying, they're in tears because they can't fathom hating someone for solely being themselves. They can't imagine going up to someone and saying that they are pieces of feces and that they don't belong,” said Luscombe.
Despite the hateful comments, Luscombe wants the community to understand that they do not represent the views of the local community.
“We want to reiterate that everyone in this community is loved and they are accepted and they are welcome for who they are. Jennifer Johnson does not speak for Lacombe-Ponoka, or central Alberta, or our government. She speaks for herself.”