Alberta passed Bill 24: An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances
, in November 2017. The bill requires school principals to immediately grant permission for Gay-Straight Alliance/Queer-Straight Alliance clubs or activities “intended to promote a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging” at the request of a student.
Bill 24 also amends the School Act
to specify that, although parents are to be notified of instruction or exercises that deal explicitly and primarily with religion or sexual activity, there is to be no notice to parents about student participation in a GSA or QSA club or event. This means that parents are not to be notified of student participation in a club or event, even for the youngest of students.
Bill 24 requires all publicly-funded schools to develop a policy on bullying and a student code of conduct that must “respect diversity” and be approved by the province.
A coalition of faith-based schools and parents in Alberta, with the help of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, has launched a constitutional challenge of Bill 24 and an injunction to allow the faith-based schools to be exempt from the legislation until the constitutional challenge is heard.
So far in the courts
A lower court in Alberta heard a challenge in 2018 on the constitutionality of Bill 24 and the injunction request. It did not grant the injunction in its June 27, 2018 decision
, but that decision was appealed.
The EFC was given intervenor status in the appeal of the decision on the injunction. The EFC argued in support of parental rights and religious freedom. The Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal April 29
, which means there is no temporary exemption for faith-based schools and others from Bill 24.
However, because the dismissal was a split decision
, it can still be appealed to a higher court. And so the EFC has applied once again for intervener status at this higher level. More details will be released when available.