Same-Sex Parent Litigation

On September 20, 2000, the BC Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision allowed an appeal to overturn the decision of a lower court quashing a resolution (the “Three Books Resolution”) of the Surrey School District not to recommend the use of three books depicting children with same-sex parents as learning resources for use in kindergarten and grade one classes. The appeal involved the interpretation of provisions of the BC School Act directing that schools be conducted on “strictly secular and non-sectarian” principles and that “the highest morality” be inculcated in schools. The appeal also involved an examination of the jurisdiction of the Board to pass the Three Books Resolution. In its reasons for judgment, the Court of Appeal found the resolution to be within the Board's jurisdiction and confirmed the right of school boards to consider parental views with respect to matters such as homosexuality in determining what materials are to be used for classroom instruction, notwithstanding that those views might be based in religious belief.

Counsel for the Petitioners, Respondent and Intervenors in this appeal were as follows: For the Schol Board: lead counsel was John Dives of Dives, Grauer & Harper, assisted by Kevin Sawatsky and Kevin Boonstra of Kuhn & Company; for the Petitioners: lead counsel was Joseph Arvay, Q.C., assisted by Catherine Parker, both of Arvay Finlay; for EAGLE: Gwen Brodsky, sole practitioner and Ken Smith of Smith & Hughes; for the BC Civil Liberties Association: lead counsel was Christopher Sanderson, assisted by Keith Bergner and Christopher Gora, all of Lawson Lundell Lawson & McIntosh; for the Evangelical Fellowship and the Archdiocese of Vancouver: lead counsel was Geoffrey Cowper, Q.C., assisted by Stanley Martin, both of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.