Court challenge on province's gay-straight alliance law to be heard in Medicine Hat on Wednesday

By Charles Lefebvre
June 19, 2018 - 12:36pm Updated: June 19, 2018 - 7:31pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB — Alberta’s law regarding gay-straight alliances faces a court challenge on Wednesday in Medicine Hat.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing 25 faith-based schools and organizations in the court challenge, which will be heard in the Medicine Hat Court of Queen’s Bench. The organization is hoping for a stay on the bill’s enforcement pending a constitutional challenge.

The challenge was filed in April in response to Bill 24, which was passed by the province last November.

Bill 24 amended the School Act, banning schools from telling parents if their child has joined a gay-straight alliance. The groups are a peer support network organized by students to help LGBTQ students feel welcome and prevent bullying.

The NDP government has said the law helps protects vulnerable students, and prevents them from being outed without their consent.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms argues the law violates sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including freedom of religion and expression. The filing also argues parents are concerned about the “Sexual and ideological nature of such clubs and activities,” according to the filing.

It isn’t the first time the Court of Queen’s Bench in Medicine Hat has heard a court challenge regarding education and LGBTQ students.

In 2016, a petition from a local parent’s group was sent to SD76. The group sought to have more discussion about parental involvement in the division’s policy on LGBTQ students. SD76 rejected the petition due to an insufficient number of signatures.

The group challenged the ruling in the Court of Queen’s Bench last April, where a judge upheld the school division’s decision.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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