EDMONTON, Alberta, March 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Alberta New Democratic Government has been sitting for four months on a report about how to deal with an independent Christian school society that is apparently violating legislation requiring all provincial schools to offer clubs supporting homosexuality.
Education Minister David Eggen has delayed acting on the report, or even releasing it, because of “complicated” legal questions.
Donna Trimble, the head of Parents for Choice in Education, said that ordering Christian schools to set up Gay Straight Alliance clubs violates their Charter rights.
“The very law that enforces GSAs in school is likely unconstitutional,” Trimble told LifeSiteNews.
That law is Bill 10, passed by the Progressive Conservative government just before its defeat by the socialist New Democrats in 2015. It put homosexuals under the protection of the provincial Human Rights Act and required schools to set up GSAs, ostensibly to prevent bullying.
Eggen commissioned the undisclosed report in the fall. The Independent Baptist Christian Education Society, which operates two small private schools west of Edmonton, refused to obey Eggen’s edict to allow gay-straight alliances or permit so-called “transgender” students to use washrooms of the opposite biological sex. The schools follow biblical teaching that homosexuality is a sin.
According to the National Post, Eggen has been holding the report for two months. However, other sources close to the investigation have told LifeSiteNews that Eggen has had the report for four months.
Last week, Eggen explained his inaction.
“It extends past just the individual case. The legal complexities that have come to light with this particular case have to have larger implications, so that’s about as far as I want to say about it right now,” Eggen said.
”We’re working hard, because I want to make sure we get it right, and we want to make sure that we’re sending a safe and caring message right across every school,” he added.
When the Christian school society first announced its position, Liberal and Progressive Conservative education critics called for Eggen to hold back its per-student grants that cover roughly half the cost of independent schools in Alberta. Only the Wildrose Party spoke up for parents’ rights and religious freedom.
That is still the case. While the PC education critic reportedly tweets Eggen regularly, calling on him to act against the holdout Christian schools, Wildrose education critic Leela Aheer issued a statement defending them.
“At no point do we have reason to believe that any independent, Christian or faith-based schools in Alberta have broken the law,” Aheer said. “We believe the rule of law must be respected and that they should be upheld with respect to the rights and freedoms of the Charter.”
Trimble says Bill 10 should never have been passed in its current form.
“As Parents for Choice in Education has been saying since the day Bill 10 passed into law, the School Act must be amended to ensure that Freedom of association, religion and conscience are respected and parents are returned to their rightful position as the primary caregiver and educator for their K-12 children,” she said.
Parents for Choice in Education has been particularly concerned about schools encouraging students with homosexual or transgender proclivities and concealing this from parents.
Trimble said any school clubs or activities must remain “within the framework, worldview and traditions of each school.”
Joining Parents for Choice in Education in defending Christian schools is the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. A lawyer who spoke with LifeSiteNews on condition of anonymity said, “A religious institution is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” Schools created to teach the public school curriculum from a Christian perspective “certainly have a right to teach about sex and sexuality” from that perspective.
The lawyer cited the 2001 decision of the Canadian Supreme Court in the Trinity Western University case. The B.C. teaching profession had refused to grant professional certification to TWU teachers’ college graduates because TWU required all students to refrain from all sex outside heterosexual marriage. The Supreme Court told the profession to accept TWU grads, stating that TWU’s religious rights trumped the profession’s concern about anti-LGBT discrimination.
Today, the Supreme Court faces a nearly identical case involving TWU and the legal professions in British Columbia and Ontario. Trying to forestall TWU’s plan to set up a law school, the legal societies have vowed not to admit the school's graduates.