A coalition of parents, independent and religious schools are considering appealing a ruling by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench rejecting an interlocutory injunction staying the operation of challenged provisions of Bill 24, ‘An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances’. A hearing of this injunction application was held on June 20. The ruling was issued on June 27.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) filed a court application in April on behalf of a coalition of parents and independent schools, challenging the constitutionality of School Act provisions added by Bill 24.
The applicants include 26 faith-based schools in Alberta, including Jewish, Christian, and Sikh schools. Bill 24 threatens faith-based schools by attacking the freedom of these schools to create safe and welcoming learning environments while also respecting their unique religious characters, and by preventing schools from being open and transparent with parents.
The applicants also include more than ten individual parents who are concerned about Bill 24’s provisions that keep parents in the dark about their child’s involvement in student groups or activities. These parents assert that keeping parents in the dark threatens the safety of some of Alberta’s most vulnerable and at-risk students.
Bill 24 legislates times and places within which it is illegal to inform parents about what their children are doing, and who has access to their children, and what materials their children are exposed to. The Applicants claim that Bill 24 endangers kids and undermines parents’ ability to support and protect their own children.
This court application asks the court to strike down provisions of Bill 24 on the basis that they violate the rights of parents and schools protected by section 2(a), 2(b), 2(d) and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) and the Alberta Bill of Rights. The court application also seeks an injunction staying the operation of the challenged provisions until the Court rules on their constitutionality, expected in 2019.
Primary among the provisions challenged is the requirement that prohibits principals and teachers from notifying parents about student organizations or “activities”, other than the establishment of the organization or the holding of the activity.