BCCLA intervenes in Surrey book ban case

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This week, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association will intervene in the lawsuit James Chamberlain et al. v. The Board of Trustees of School District #36 (Surrey), the Surrey book ban case, in support of the petitioners.

The lawsuit was launched by a group of Surrey parents, students and teachers in the wake of the Surrey School Board’s decisions not to approve resources from the Gay and Lesbian Educators of B.C. (GALE), and not to approve for use in Kindergarten and Grade One classes three books which contain depictions of same-sex parents. The BCCLA fully supports this legal challenge.

Lawyers Chris Sanderson and Chris Gora of the law firm Lawson Lundell will act as counsel for the civil rights group. They will argue that in banning all resources submitted by GALE simply because of their sexual orientation, the Board has offended the equality rights of gay and lesbian students and teachers, and contravened the Human Rights Code by denying a service or facility on the basis of sexual orientation.

In the BCCLA’s view, the Board’s second decision—to ban three books depicting same-sex parents simply because of this depiction—violates both the Charter rights of gay and lesbian students and the Human Rights Code. In addition, it imports into Surrey public schools the religious views of some Surrey parents and Board members. This is contrary to the School Act, which says that public schools must be kept strictly non-sectarian.

The case is expected to take two weeks.