A Canadian teacher has reportedly been placed on leave after months of criticism from parents about her size-Z prosthetic breasts.
Kayla Lemieux, an industrial arts teacher at Oakville Trafalgar High School in Ontario, Canada, was reportedly photographed by a newspaper outside school, dressed as a man and without the prosthetics.
The teacher has maintained that it was not her in the photograph, and that the breasts are real.
Ms Lemieux has said she suffers from a rare condition called gigantomastia and that she was born “intersex,” rather than being transgender.
According to the National Institutes of Health, gigantomastia is a “rare condition characterised by excessive breast growth”.
In the wake of the photograph being published, a spokeswoman for the Halton District School Board in Ontario told the Toronto Sun: “While not currently on an active assignment, the teacher remains employed.”
Controversy around the teacher began last year when it emerged she was teaching classes in a wig, and tight top showing Z-cup breasts with protruding nipples.
The ensuing saga led to heated board meetings, at which parents complained her appearance was inappropriate for children, and there were bomb threats at the school.
Last month, the New York Post photographed what the newspaper claimed was Ms Lemieux dressed as a man, and without breasts, walking down a street.
In an interview at a separate time, with breasts, Ms Lemieux told the New York Post: “I can’t tell you who that is [in the photograph] because I don’t want to bring anyone else into this.
“This is who I am. This is how I look. I am always going out looking the way I am. I’m not wearing prosthetic breasts. These are real.”
The teacher told the newspaper that she began hormone replacement therapy in 2021 and was “in transition”.
However, she said she was “not a transgendered person” having been born “intersex”.
Experts give varying estimates of how rare it is to be born intersex, with it being somewhere between 0.018 per cent and 1.7 per cent of the population.
Ms Lemieux said gigantomastia had been brought on by hormone therapy.
She told the New York Post: “It’s rare, there’s no doubt about it. It affects women on a very rare basis, but in my case, I believe, and my doctor thinks, because I have XX chromosomes as well, that has something to do with it, and hormone sensitivity to oestrogen has caused it.”
In a subsequent email response to the Toronto Sun, she said: “I decided to break my silence and put my name next to my statements, and now I am being asked to provide proof. I really don’t know how to help you with that.”
School backs teacher
The Halton District School Board had previously backed the teacher.
In a statement in September, it said. “Gender identity and gender expression are protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code.”
At a recent protest, parents carried signs saying “I feel mocked” and “too far” and “student teacher role model”.
Hadeon MacKillop, a pupil at the school, told CBC Toronto there should be a dress code for teachers.
He said: “If students have to follow those rules, I think teachers should as well.
“That’s what I think the main problem is, not anything to do with [transgender] issues, it’s just the dress code.”
The school district said it would “prioritise education and a learning environment for our students” but “at the same time, we’re holding firm to our values of inclusion”.
This week, Ontario’s Minister for Education Stephen Lecce told the Toronto Star: “Halton parents are rightfully outraged at what’s taking place. The welfare of kids should prevail in our judgments in school boards and in government.”
In January, the school board agreed to come up with a policy for teachers to have an “appropriate and professional” appearance.
However, a spokeswoman for parents group Students First Ontario said the board had failed to “develop a policy that will address the issue at hand – dress code and professionalism of teachers to ensure that students attend classes in an environment that is safe and distraction free”.
At a board meeting last month, Julia Malott, a transgender mother, said that what Ms Lemieux was wearing in class was “absolutely not appropriate for school”.
She said: “It is fetish wear used in sex work and the drag industry or people in their own houses who enjoy it. It is certainly not something I would want my daughter to see.”