Alberta passed Bill 24: An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances
, in November 2017. The bill required 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. However the province has passed new legislation that does not include the provisions from Bill 24 that were at issue, effective Sept. 1, 2019.
Concerns were raised because Bill 24 also amended 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 was to be no notice to parents about student participation in a GSA or QSA club or event. This meant that parents were not to be notified of student participation in a club or event, even for the youngest of students.
Bill 24 also required 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, 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 was heard.
However, as a result of the reversal caused by the new legislation, this constitutional challenge will not proceed.
What happened 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 meant there would be no temporary exemption for faith-based schools and others from Bill 24.
In summer 2019 it looked like the constitutional challenge would go ahead, and the EFC applied once again for intervener status. But as a result of the reversal caused by the new legislation, the issue now appears closed.