Shy Canadian Student’s Bid To Avoid Women’s Class Dismissed By Human Rights Tribunal

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By Anne Lu | February 7, 2014 7:03 AM EST

University of Toronto student Wongene Daniel Kim was too shy to go to class with girls so he went to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, hoping that it would help him convince his professor to reconsider his grade. It didn’t.

Mr Kim, a second year health science major, signed up to participate in a Women & Gender Studies course in the Fall of 2012. However, upon looking into the classroom, he noticed that there were around 40 females in attendance and no other male student other than him.

He was too shy and uncomfortable to attend the class as he was the only male enrolled in the course.

The class participation mark was worth 15%, which he needed to pass the course. He asked the professor for consideration on his attendance mark “given his insecurities which made him uncomfortable participating” in the class full of women.

The professor did not waive the 15% for him, and therefore Mr Kim did not receive grade for class participation. Without it, his grade was not enough for a passing mark.

He asked Professor Sarah Trimble to reconsider his grade, but she refused. That’s when he sought the help of the tribunal.

“I felt anxiety; 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,” he was quoted by The Star as saying.

“I’m generally a shy person, especially around women, and it would have been a burden if I had had to choose a group for group work.”

He also claimed that he was unaware of how poorly he was doing in the class that he had not attended at all because Professor Trimble did not post marks on the course Web site, but handed assignments in class.

“We live in a digital era, why couldn’t she have posted the marks online? I believe if you want to attract more males to these courses, you have to work with them. My request for accommodation was reasonable.”

However, the tribunal did not agree. A ruling was handed, declaring that his case did not fall into discrimination category because his discomfort in attending the class was based on his own “individual preference” as a shy person.

He did not have any evidence that he was excluded, disadvantaged, or treated unequally, or any proof that he would have been had he attended the class.

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