An application for a judicial review of an administrative decision of the Executive Committee of the Bluewater District School Board has been dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court.

The applicant was denied her request to deliver an oral presentation at a meeting of the Board on May 21, 2019.

The purported topic of her presentation related to the flying of the rainbow pride flag at all Ontario schools during Pride Month in June, 2019.

Although the request stated “I believe this is a special right not afforded to other interest groups and therefore discriminatory”, the court noted that only passing reference was made to that topic or the flag in the content of the proposed presentation.

The text of the presentation, according to the court, was instead focussed on what the applicant called “harmful transgender ideology”.

The applicant sought an order quashing the decision to deny her an oral deputation at the meeting, together with a declaration that the decision unjustifiably violated her right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Board's counsel argued that the oral delivery of the content of the proposed presentation would run contrary to the express statutory duties and responsibilities that bind them including the Education Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the by-laws and policies of the Board itself.

These include, among other things, a mandate to provide a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting of pupils of any sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The applicant was not prevented from ever expressing her views on a controversial issue, but merely not permitted to do so orally at a public meeting of the Board.

The Board offered to provide the applicant’s presentation to the trustees in written form facilitating the applicant’s wish to express herself on this topic.

In their reasons for judgement, Justice Heeney referred to the applicant's proposed presentation which was three pages of text and two pages of references focussed on what the applicant called “transgender doctrine”.

“To understand the rationale for the Board’s decision, it is only necessary to imagine a trans student in attendance in the audience at the Board meeting where the applicant was making the presentation, and hearing it publicly declared that they do not, in fact, exist, but are instead the construct of a “harmful transgender ideology”. How could that meeting possibly be described as being part of a “positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting of all pupils, including pupils of any … sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, [or] gender expression … ?” asked Justice Heeney, speaking for the court.

“I conclude that the Board’s reasons are sufficient, and entirely reasonable.”

Justices Stewart and Sutherland agreed, and the applicant was dismissed.

The full text of the reasons for judgement is provided here.




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