There is plenty of evidence that parents in Canada no longer have the right to direct their children’s education and their lives. In this article, we bring to the attention of parents some disturbing examples of parental rights violated and overruled.
The first is the case of Steve Tourloukis, the Christian father from Hamilton, who fought for his parental rights for nearly eight years. He was legally attacked by the school board, the province of Ontario, and the elementary teachers’ union. The only thing that this parent wanted was to protect his children from the LGTBQ beliefs implemented by the Wynne Liberal government. The policy is known as the Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy. It later become part of the controversial 2015 Health and Physical and Education curriculum for all public schools, including the Catholic schools.
Last year, the Ontario Superior Court ruled against Steve Tourloukis. The court reasoned that there was lack of evidence; in other words, he needed to prove that his children were actually harmed. The decision is a blow to parental rights in Ontario and the rest of Canada. Why? Because Tourloukis represented every parent who wants to have a say about the kind of education their children receive.
One of the three judges, Peter Lauwers, did state the dangers of violating parental rights. He wrote, “In my view there are limits imposed by the Charter on a province’s power to use publicly funded education to inculcate children in beliefs that educational authorities have determined are necessary.” He added, there is the “right of parents to care for their children and make decisions for their well-being, including decisions about education, is primary, and the state’s authority is secondary to that parental right.” So, why not rule in favour of Tourloukis? That would have been the just ruling.
Win or lose, we have a lot of respect and admiration for what Tourloukis has done. In the interest of full disclosure, we’re the chair of The Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund. We worked to raise private funds to help pay for the court costs. The Ontario government, the school board and the teachers’ union probably spent well over 500,000 dollars to fight Tourloukis, and by attacking him they attacked all parents in Canada. But they had unlimited taxpayer money to fight against parental rights. The average citizens doesn’t. What a shame.
In the second case, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled in June of this year that Law Societies have the right to deny accreditation to Trinity Western University’s (TWU) proposed law school. Trinity Western University is a private Christian evangelical institution that requires its students to agree to a covenant permitting sexual relationships just between a man and a woman and only after marriage. The high court decided that Law Societies in both Ontario and British Columbia have the right to make sure (discriminate) that there is equal access to diversity and stop any harm to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students. However, that same equality of access and harm doesn’t apply to Christian students.
Why did the SCC not ask for proof of harm as the judges did in the Tourloukis case? In this case, no evidence of harm was necessary. The mere covenant itself to remain chaste was in itself proof of harm to others. Why can’t Canadian parents and students have the freedom to choose the education of their choice? Why not encourage more young men and women to study charity law? But the Supreme Court wasn’t interested. There is a double standard of justice here. A Christian father needs to legally provide proof of harm before the court agrees to his Charter of Rights of religious freedom and equality, but the same rule doesn’t apply to those who claim to hold LGTBQ values. There is something terribly wrong in this. TWU has every right, in a democratic nation, to have a law school founded on Christian principles. The SCC made a horrible and biased decision.
The third example comes from Alberta. We have a family with three children, of whom two are autistic. One of the autistic children, a girl, who is twelve years old, joined the school’s gay/straight alliance club (GSA). There she was soon convinced the she was a “boy” and not a girl. The school began the transitioning process with hormones, surgery, change of name and allowing the girl to use the boys’ washroom.
Were the parents informed of what was happening to this very vulnerable child? Of course not. It wasn’t until the daughter became depressed and suicidal that the parents were told. This child could have taken her life because the school did not tell the parents. After the parents went to court with the help of lawyer John Carpay from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the situation got worse.
In court, Justice Johnna Kubik dismissed all the expert evidence presented that GSAs can too easily be used to promote an ideological progressive sexuality and gender fluidity. Why allow public schools to let just about anyone have access to GSA clubs without parental permission? Why is it acceptable to undermine the traditional view on sexuality, the person and marriage? We must remember that we’re talking about children changing sex, in this case an autistic child, and attending elementary school. The child’s brain has hardly formed the capacity to make such a serious choice. Instead, is this not a case of government child abuse?
The judge dismissed expert testimony because she has the legislative support of the Alberta government that believes GSAs are good for students. Kubik sided with Bill 24 that makes it illegal in Alberta to notify a parent if the child joins a GSA and/or decides to transition. The ruling is currently being challenged in the Alberta Court of Appeal. Kubik’s biased decision needs to be overturned. But for now, parental rights can be violated in the name of gender fluidity and sexual expressions of every kind. It must not matter to Kubik that children in the meantime can be harmed for life.
The last example is a continuation for the last point. Too many anti-parental rights laws have been passed by governments. We have seen how Bill 24, An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliancesin Alberta can be used against parents. The legislation protects teachers and school administrators from telling parents that their children have joined a gay/straight alliance at school. In Ontario, we have Bill 89, Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017that permits the school and/or government officials to remove children from their families if parents don’t accept a child’s decision to change sex. Don’t let the nice-sounding name of the law fool you. The Ontario government knows best when it comes to changing a child’s sex.
In addition, in Ontario, Bill 28, All Families Are Equal Act (Parentage and Related Registrations Statute Law Amendment), 2016is actually anti-family because it permits the removal of the words “mother” and “father” on birth certificates. How can a mother and a father have rights when you can choose not to recognize that biological reality and be forced to accept another one merely based on feelings? And then there’s Ontario’s Bill 77, Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act, 2015that legislates against any other therapy counter to changing sex is legally acceptable. Most provinces now have similar legislation. This provincial legislation is all backed by Canada’s Bill C-16, a law passed in 2016. It’s called An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. The law adds gender expression and gender identity as protected grounds of discrimination to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. Canadians can be charged with a crime now should they question gender fluidity or with hate speech if they speak against it.
We conclude by quoting from Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sections 2 and 3 state: “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.” And “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” In Canada, both laws at the federal and provincial levels are breaking this declaration. It’s parents who have the right to have the final say in what children learn and the groups they join, not the school or the government. By violating parental rights and not fully respecting parents, Canada’s future is bleak.
There is a huge price we pay as a society when we weaken parental rights and refuse to legislatively protect, not just alternative structures, but the traditional family too. The health and strength of the family is the health and strength of a nation. If we keep on this sick path, parental rights in Canada will become extinct. For some parents, it has already sadly happened.
Lou Iacobelli is a retired educator who blogs at Everyday for Life Canada, where a version of this article originally appeared Nov. 3, and is used with permission.