OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday
that a British Columbia school board should not have banned books at
the kindergarten and Grade 1 level that depicted same-sex parents.
In a 7-2 ruling, the top court said the school board in Surrey
went against provincial legislation that says the public school
system is secular and non-sectarian.
The case goes back to 1997, when the school board refused to
approve three books for use in kindergarten and Grade 1.
The three books are Asha's Mums, Belinda's Bouquet and
One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dads, Blue Dads. The books depicted
same-sex parents in a favourable light, triggering complaints from
parents who took objection on religious grounds.
James Chamberlain, a primary-level teacher, wanted to use the
books in class, even though they are not part of a reading list
approved by the B.C. Education Ministry.
The Supreme Court ruling focused on the religious objections,
rather than the larger issue of gay and lesbian constitutional
The Surrey board said it ordered the ban because the books were
not suitable for five- and six-year olds. The board also said many
parents objected to the books because they regard homosexuality as a
But the court said the moral objections of some parents are not a
basis for a ban. The court also concluded "tolerance is always
age-appropriate," said John Fisher of the group Equality for Gays
and Lesbians Everywhere.
"The Supreme Court of Canada today ruled that learning about
difference actually enhances children's education, that kids benefit
when they learn respect for those who are different," he said.
A trial judge supported Chamberlain in 1998; then the B.C. Court
of Appeal reversed the decision in 2000. The appeal court ruled the
board could exclude the books from the classroom but have them
available in the school library.
Written by CBC News Online staff