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Xtra! West and Trinity Western University

by Kay Stockholder

Gareth Kirby, Editor
Xtra West!

Dear Sir,

I appreciate the interest that your paper showed in reporting the views of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association on the certification of Trinity Western University’s teacher training program. I also thank Jan Brown for setting forth our thinking. However, I would like to clarify two points that were left open to misunderstanding.

First, the article gives the impression that the effect of the Trinity Western code of conduct is to bar gay people from admission. In point of fact, gay and lesbian students who are willing to sign the code have been admitted.

The second, and crucial, point is that Trinity Western is a private rather than a public institution, and it is by no means the only gateway to an education degree. Were it public, the BCCLA would in no way countenance its code.

However, our democratic society is based on a trade off, whereby private institutions are allowed to practice and teach their beliefs as long as they flout no laws, whereas public institutions must honour the principle that all groups, whether defined by belief, gender, ethnicity, or race, are entitled to participate in our society on equal terms.

Any educational institution that trains people for jobs in public education should inculcate awareness of the democratic values that protect its rights as a private institution. Since TWU graduates have been teaching in the public schools apparently without causing problems, there is no evidence, as the courts have since ruled, that TWU has failed to do so. The Chinese Benevolent Association, for example, excludes non-Chinese, and some gay and lesbian groups exclude heterosexuals.

Whether we applaud or deplore a group’s views, we should be aware that the democratic freedom to form associations of like-minded citizens is fundamental to protecting cultural diversity and to a politically active citizenry in a flourishing democracy.

Kay Stockholder