Christian school has right to refuse child from same-sex home: Ontario tribunal
TORONTO, September 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A Canadian civil rights commission has granted a Christian school the freedom to follow its own rules.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) ruled that The Private Academy, an evangelical grade school, may turn down a lesbian guardian’s application for their adopted child to attend.
The homosexual activists, who say they are Christian but do not go to church regularly, met with the school principal to get their ward admitted to a preschool program. However, the Christian school — which does not receive government funding — has a moral code that requires families of students to attend a church and share the same biblical values the school advocates.
After the principal said the couple’s same-sex “marriage” would clash with the school’s teachings, the lesbians sued for discrimination.
HRTO’s Jennifer Khurana determined that the school made “a complete defense to the allegations of discrimination. I agree.”
The focus of the lawsuit is Section 18 of Canada’s Human Rights Code (HRC), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
“In essence, this case is about whether the respondent can rely on section 18 of the Code as a defense to what would otherwise be discrimination under the Code,” the tribunal explained.
The HRC excludes any “religious, philanthropic, educational, fraternal or social institution or organization that is primarily engaged in serving the interests of persons identified by a prohibited ground of discrimination.” In other words, any group whose core beliefs run contrary to anti-discrimination laws.
Section 18 specifically gives such religious organizations the right to limit members. For such groups, individual civil rights “are not infringed where membership or participation ... is restricted to persons who are similarly identified.”
“The school has a well-defined and specific set of creedal beliefs, mission statement and mandate,” Khurana ruled. “The respondent’s evidence was clear that the school requires all parents to share these values if they are considering the school for their family.”
“I have no difficulty finding that the school limits enrollment or participation at the school to those parents who identify by its creed,” Khurana wrote. “To obligate the school to admit a child whose parents do not share those beliefs is to encroach on the rights of the parents served by the school to practice the creed and religion they sincerely believe in.”
Attorney Angela Chaisson commented to the Law Times that she considers the lawsuit a case of Christians using civil rights law to violate civil rights.
Referring to the defendant school, Chaisson said, “They’re targeting gays, they’re not targeting people who got divorces, people who got abortions, they’re picking and choosing the groups that they don’t like, and they’re using Section 18 as a cover.”
The school defended its position by noting it is a private religious institution that integrates biblical teaching into every subject, and its handbook is clear about doctrinal and moral expectations of prospective families. Among expectations are the pro-life belief in the sanctity of innocent human life from conception and that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.
The principal explained that all parents must abide by the school’s Statement of Faith and Core Family Values. The lesbians claimed that they had no problem with the school teaching their boy beliefs contrary to their own practices.
In the past two decades, the school’s trustees and administration have had to reject only three other applicants. One was because the parents did not attend any church, another was because the parents were not married but involved in open fornication, and a third case was because the applicants were open homosexuals. In the latter case, the gay couple voluntarily withdrew their application.
Khurana reasoned that the school “defines itself according to its sincerely held views and convictions, and does not align itself with other Christians … who may accept and believe that marriage is broader than heterosexual unions.”
The homosexuals argued that Canada’s Human Rights Code applies to the “primary served,” the child, and not to his guardians. Khurana countered that it was the guardians who applied and “there is no basis to separate the interests of the parent and child.”
But the legal battle is not over. Liberal watchdogs and regulatory agencies are now anteing up for themselves.
A spokeswoman for the Law Society of Upper Canada said they are reviewing the case and will make public their position by September 25.
Ontario Minister of Education press secretary Richard Francella said the government is “currently reviewing this decision,” because “the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario operates independently of government.”
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is a court that judges alleged discrimination. Read its entire ruling here.