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School Board Tries to Halt Gay Bias Complaint

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - The school board in the Vancouver suburb of Abbotsford wants the B.C. Supreme Court to toss a human-rights complaint filed by two gay rights activists, saying the action lacks "an appropriate complainant group."

In 2006, Murray and Peter Corren, a same-sex couple, scored a victory after settling a longstanding complaint over alleged discrimination in schools. Their complaint, filed in 1999, claimed that the absence of gay rights issues in school curriculums amounted to discrimination.

As part of the settlement, the government's education ministry agreed to work with the couple to develop a social justice course that would include discussions about homophobia and other gay rights issues.

But when the school board required parental consent for students to enroll in the class, the Correns filed another complaint on behalf of students and parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students.

The complaint alleges that the parental consent requirement "is related to the controversial course content, namely issues dealing with sexual orientation, gender identity, homophobia and heterosexism."

The human rights tribunal, meanwhile, denied the school board's application to dismiss the complaint, and now the board wants the B.C. Supreme Court to quash the tribunal's decision.

"The requirement for parental consent for the course is not discriminatory," the petition says. "Parents play an important role in the education of their children and have the right to be consulted regarding their children's educational program."

"Parent signatures for students' annual course selections are/or parental consent for various courses, programs or activities are routinely required by the board."

The Abbotsford Board of Education is represented by Eric J. Harris of Harris & Co.


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