A judge in Alberta has dismissed an attempt by religious schools to be able to “out” gay students against their will.
As I posted last week, this case involves an Alberta law, passed in November, which requires schools to keep the names of Gay-Straight Alliance club members a secret. Unless the student is “under direct threat of harm,” administrators can’t just “out” kids against their will.
That law was challenged by the (conservative) Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms on behalf of 25 faith-based schools. They argued that the law violated the schools’ religious freedom — which was a fancy way of saying they wanted the ability to shame and punish kids who would join an LGBTQ group.
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Johnna Kubik ruled yesterday that those schools were full of it.
“I am satisfied that there is no serious constitutional issue to be tried. GSAs are voluntary student organizations … The act in no way restricts the right of parents or schools to continue to impart their religious and moral values to their children,” Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Johnna Kubik wrote in her decision, released Wednesday.
To win the injunction, Kubik wrote that the coalition needed to prove that there was a serious constitutional issue and that the law would have caused irreparable harm.
I guess whining about fake religious persecution doesn’t count as “irreparable harm.”
Kubik also dismissed the idea that GSAs promoted sexual acts and distributed graphic content.
“There is no evidence that any of these materials were ever promoted by the respondent or GSAs generally or that the materials ever came into the hands of any students through a GSA,” Kubik wrote.
Right. Of course they haven’t. That’s not what GSAs do. Saying that a high school club providing a safe space for LGBTQ students and allies is some hotbed of deviancy isn’t just wrong; it mischaracterizes the entire purpose of what they do.
On the contrary, said Kubik, those clubs perform a valuable service:
… there is evidence demonstrating the groups provide a public good, including:
- A reduction in casual sex and drug use.
- Improved school performance.
- An increased sense of safety and enhanced psychological well-being among students who participate in GSAs.
“The effect on LGBTQ+ students in granting an injunction, which would result in both the loss of supportive GSAs in their schools and send the message that their diverse identities are less worthy of protection, would be considerably more harmful than temporarily limiting a parent’s right to know and make decisions about their child’s involvement in a GSA,” the judge wrote.
She’s right, and it’s everything we already knew. It turns out when you remove conservative fear-mongering ad exaggeration from the equation, there’s nothing to worry about.
The Christian schools and their lawyers say they may appeal the decision. Because nothing is more important to them than making sure gay students suffer.
Alberta’s Education Minister David Eggen praised the ruling, calling it a “win for justice and equality.” Which is weird because I’m not used to hearing a high-level government official in charge of education saying something sensible.
You win again, Canada.
(Thanks to Genevieve for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)