Tainted Story in Halifax

We'll have to wait to see if this actually turns out to be a good story. It started out to be one.

Kenny Cooley transferred to Halifax West High School as a junior. Things didn't go particularly well at his previous school when he came out as transgender. Now a senior, he pushed the boundaries a bit more this year by trying out and making the football team. He plays wide receiver.

Having previously played hockey as a girl on a boys team, Kenny wasn't worried about the contact. He was rather worried about the acceptance of his teammates.

During camp Cooley said he brought up the fact he was trans to his coach, who said he already knew and “it’s okay, you do you,” but if he was ever uncomfortable or had issues he should come talk to him.

I was was super nervous and shaky. I mean you’re going into a group of guys that are a lot bigger than you.

Then you get to know them and … they’re all open and just caring. They all just treat me as one of the guys.

--Cooley

After training camp those who make the team are handed practice gear. Cooley said getting the gear made him “so happy,” and he took it home right away to show his mom, who took a photo of him holding it.

I was like ‘I finally did this.’ I had a goal and I achieved it, I felt like I passed a huge milestone in my life.

--Cooley

By telling his story and being open, Cooley said he hopes more people realize trans folks “aren’t weird” but just living in the wrong body, and break down stereotypes about what they can do in life - like play high school football, or become a firefighter.

You need to take the risk, because sometimes taking the big leap can lead to you realizing that it wasn’t a big leap at all. It’s just a fear.

Kenny also had a job working at the McDonald's on the Bedford Highway. But then that news media thing happened. Two days later he says he was told his employment was being terminated "one, because of the media, and two because we had some scheduling mishaps."

When asked about Cooley’s dismissal on Wednesday, a McDonald’s spokesperson did not confirm he had been let go from that Bedford location but forwarded an emailed statement from the owner operator, Bob Smith.

Smith said he was

shocked by these allegations as they are simply not true.

I have been a local business owner for more than 25 years and I pride myself on operating an open and diverse workplace. At my restaurants, inclusion has always been an important part of my work culture. Our philosophy has always been to ‘bring your whole self to work.’ By doing so, we encourage an open and accepting workplace that allows everyone to contribute their personal best.

It “wasn’t a good feeling” to be let go for those two reasons last Wednesday, Cooley said.

“It was like a really uncomfortable setting … it kind of made me feel really bad,” he added.

As for the scheduling mishap, Cooley said he had thought it was resolved when it happened two weeks ago. It revolved around Cooley having a schedule that read a different shift time than the one his McDonald’s manager had.

Cooley said his mother is thinking of taking his case to the Labour Board to see whether it qualifies as wrongful dismissal, and he agrees.

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