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Lethbridge UCP candidate Torry Tanner's claims against teachers disputed

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A United Conservative Party candidate in Lethbridge claims teachers are exposing students to pornography and gender reassignment without parental knowledge.

Torry Tanner made the allegations in a recent video she posted to social media.

"We are seeing increasing instances where kids, even those attending kindergarten, are being exposed to pornographic materials," Tanner said in the video.

"Having teachers help them change their gender identity with absolutely no parental consent or knowledge whatsoever," Tanner went on to say in the video.

Tanner is vying for a seat to represent Lethbridge-West in Alberta's legislature but her comments are being called out as blatant misinformation.

"It's disingenuous, it creates a level of mistrust within my colleagues within the teaching profession and it's unacceptable behaviour," said Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers Association.

Alberta teachers say the video is offensive and makes extremely false claims.

Tanner has since removed the video from her social media upon request from the UCP but some Alberta teachers want her removed as a candidate entirely.

"It's a candidate who is using fear and misinformation to get political gain and I think that the minister of education and the premier of this province need to denounce that," Schilling said.

The UCP says it "believes in parental choice in education and that parents know what is best for their children."

"The comments made in the video do not accurately reflect our policies and our efforts to work with local and provincial education partners to protect our children and put their education first."

Political experts say the video creates a liability for the party ahead of the upcoming provincial election.

"Having united the party and having sort of absorbed more extreme views and candidates within the party, they look like there's a bigger distance between the party and the mainstream voter," said Lori Williams, political analyst at Mount Royal University.

And Alberta teachers are hoping their voices will be heard by the province – to focus on issues like smaller class sizes and extra funding for learning resources.

"We need to be focused on what can (do to) make our students' lives better, what will help them academically and behaviourally in class, what we can do to help our teachers within schools, not nonsense like this," Schilling said.

The UCP did not say if they would take steps to remove Tanner as a candidate for Lethbridge-West in the upcoming provincial election.

As of right now, her name will still appear on the ballot.

Members of the Alberta NDP issued a statement Wednesday night.

"The baseless claims made by Torry Tanner are dangerous and harmful, and they do not represent the Lethbridge that we know and love. We are inclusive and respectful, and Tanner should take the time to learn more about the community she is hoping to represent," said the statement, attributed to the NDP candidate for Lethbridge-West, Shannon Phillips, and 2SLGBTQ+ issues critic Janis Irwin.

"These comments are more evidence that Danielle Smith and her team are extreme. They're unpredictable and focused on the wrong things — namely, today, perpetuating harmful lies that hurt the 2SLGBTQ+ community and all Albertans, and making baseless allegations against Alberta teachers.

"Danielle Smith and Adriana LaGrange must condemn Torry Tanner's statements and she must be dropped as a candidate."

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