YOUR TAX DOLLARS FUND HOMOPHOBIC SCHOOLS
An Education Denied
TORONTO: When music teacher Lisa Reimer was dismissed from her position last week at Little Flower Academy, a Catholic school for girls in Vancouver, the public was again reminded about the alarmingly common presence of homophobia within Canadian schools. Unfortunately, this is often especially the case for faith-based schools. After her partner gave birth to a child, school authorities informed Reimer that she was no longer allowed on school property. She was also not to be in contact with any of her students after the parents of children at the school raised objections about her sexual orientation.
Egale Canada condemns such brazenly homophobic behaviour, and strongly encourages the BC Ministry of Education to follow through with its promises to investigate the matter. The BC Human Rights Code applies to all schools that receive public funds, including Little Flower Academy. Section 13(1)(B) specifically forbids discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation. Celso Boscariol, the Chair of the school’s Board of Directors, has confirmed that Reimer’s sexual orientation was indeed the cause of her dismissal. The school is therefore in clear violation of the Code.
Unfortunately, there is a growing list of such cases—independent schools that receive public money actively discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) students and staff. Crandall College (formerly Atlantic Baptist College) in Moncton, New Brunswick, recently received $12 million in grants from both the provincial and federal governments even though it has a policy for both students and staff forbidding homosexuality. Brian MacArthur, Crandall’s president, has publicly stated that his school’s mission is to “foster good debate in the classroom as students explore their own beliefs, traditions and hopes for the future.” Sadly, MacArthur’s statements directly contradict his own school’s policy. More importantly, it is the students at Crandall and now the Little Flower Academy who will suffer most as they are denied access to the true diversity of Canadian society.
Egale is Canada’s LGBTQ human rights organization, advancing quality, diversity, education and justice.