OTTAWA, June 12, 2002 ( – The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada along with the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Archdiocese of Vancouver and The Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association will be intervening to defend the rights of religious parents to participate in decisions about the education of their children. The Supreme Court of Canada today began hearings into the controversial Chamberlain v. Surrey School Board case.

The case arose when the Surrey School Board decided not to approve books promoting homosexual parents for use in kindergarten and Grade 1 largely based on the concerns of religious parents. James Chamberlain, a kindergarten teacher in a Surrey school, challenged this decision in court. The British Columbia Supreme Court overturned the school board decision on the basis that “the Board made a decision significantly influenced by religious considerations” and that this was contrary to section 76(1) of the Schools Act that schools be “conducted on strictly secular.principles.”

The British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned the B.C. Supreme Court ruling. The Court of Appeal found that the Supreme Court judge erred in her interpretation of “secular.” Section 76(1) of the Schools Act did not require that religious parents be excluded from the public school decision-making process.

Janet Epp Buckingham, the EFC’s general legal counsel, who is arguing in the case, said, “If the decision of the school board is overturned because it was based on the concerns of religious parents the implication is that any parent can be heard on educational issues except religious parents,” says Buckingham. “This is discriminatory. Religious parents have just as much right to be heard as any other parents.” The ruling in the case was reserved.