Alberta judge blocks parents’ bid for right to know if kids join pro-LGBT club
MEDICINE HAT, Alberta, June 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Alberta judge dismissed an attempt by parents and schools to block Bill 24, a measure which makes it illegal for schools to inform parents that their children have joined LGBT clubs at school.
Justice Johanna Kubik of the Alberta Court of the Queen’s Bench denied the application in Medicine Hat yesterday, saying that “the public interest in promoting basic equality for staff and students of institutions supported by public funding would not be served by staying the provisions [of the Bill].”
The hearing of the injunction application had been on June 20, and the intervenor in the case was the Calgary Sexual Health Centre. The schools and parents are considering an appeal.
Bill 24, or “An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances,” was passed in the Alberta legislature last November. As well as banning schools from notifying parents when their child joins a GSA unless the child gives consent, Bill 24 requires that independent religious schools, including Catholic schools, allow GSAs if a student asks for one.
The application against the Bill was filed by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) on behalf of a coalition of parents, independent, and religious schools. The JCCF argued that the provisions added to the Alberta School Act were unconstitutional.
The coalition included 26 faith-based schools, among them Jewish, Christian, and Sikh institutions. In a press release, the JCCF said that Bill 24 attacked these schools, interfering with their ability to form welcoming environments faithful to their religious character and to be “open and transparent” with parents.
Ten individual parents were also in the coalition, asserting that keeping parents “in the dark” threatens the safety of some of Alberta’s most vulnerable and “at-risk” children. Two of the parents presented testimony that they had children in GSAs who had become convinced that they were “transgender” and had been encouraged by their club to act out their opposite gender role at school, which led to “psychological distress” and suicide attempts. Judge Kubik dismissed these accounts as “largely hearsay in nature.”
Kubik also rejected Dr. Miriam Grossman’s testimony that GSAs do harm partially on the basis that the psychiatrist believes concepts of gender identity promoted by GSAs are a form of radical activism.
“This characterization fails to recognize the legal reality in Alberta and Canada: concepts of gender identity and the right to freely express the same are not radical ideologies, promoted by activists,” she wrote. “They are individual rights, recognized and protected by law.”
But the applicants were adamant that Bill 24 endangers kids.
“Bill 24 legislates times and places within which it is illegal to inform parents about what their children are doing, and who has access to their children, and what materials their children are exposed to,” stated the JCCF. “The Applicants claim that Bill 24 endangers kids and undermines parents’ ability to support and protect their own children.”
The JCCR argued in court that provisions of Bill 24 should be struck down because they violated rights of parents and schools protected by Section 2 (a), 2 (b), 2 (d), and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) and the Alberta Bill of Rights.
Also of note in the application were the parents’ concerns that GSAs are harmful and expose children to “inappropriate, explicit sexual information, as well as information about gender and sexuality, which is either harmful in its own right, ideological in nature, or contrary to the parents’ or schools’ beliefs in such matters.” The applicants also argued that the requirement for the immediate formation of the sexuality-themed clubs was a violation of their freedom of religion, of conscience, and of association “based on common moral values and beliefs”.
Among those arguing in favour of Bill 24 were Pamela Krause and Hilary Mutch of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre and Dr. Kevin Alderson, a Calgary psychologist.