Manitoba Human Rights Commission ordered to re-examine LGBTTQ+ curriculum complaint

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A Court of Queen's Bench justice has ordered the Manitoba Human Rights Commission to reconsider a complaint made by three parents who say the province’s curriculum is discriminatory against LGBTTQ+ families.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/08/2021 (462 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Court of Queen’s Bench justice has ordered the Manitoba Human Rights Commission to reconsider a complaint made by three parents who say the province’s curriculum is discriminatory against LGBTTQ+ families.

Three LGBTTQ+ parents, Michelle McHale, Karen Phillips and Sonja Stone, first filed a complaint with the commission in July 2017, alleging that the school curriculum provided to Manitoban children “fails to reference diversity of gender, sexuality and family; an omission made worse by discretion vested in school decisions and teachers to determine whether, and to what extent, to include such diversity in their lesson plans,” according to the judgement issued Aug. 17.

While the 40-page investigation into the complaint by the commission suggested it go to a public hearing, the commission’s board of directors voted in October 2019 to dismiss the complaint, saying it did not find sufficient evidence that the curriculum “contributes to the creation of a discriminatory learning environment for the (complainants’) children, or other Manitoba students and families.”

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS FILES Michelle McHale and Karen Phillips first filed a complaint with the commission in July 2017.

The applicants filed for a judicial review of the decision in November 2019.

Justice David Kroft said the commission had not done enough to explain why they had dismissed the complaint and thus had to re-examine the issue and provide further clarity.

“In the facts of this case, the commission’s decision is lacking. It may well be justifiable but, objectively viewed, it is not sufficiently justified by transparent reasons,” he said.

Allison Fenske of the Public Interest Law Centre, who represented the parents, said while the decision was a positive step, there was still a long way to go before the complaint could be considered based on its merit.

“The reality is, this complaint was about discrimination against (LGBTTQ+) kids and their families,” she said. “And those kids and families continue to suffer and be discriminated against in certain school divisions, so the longer it takes to have this issue considered by an adjudication panel, the more that the allegations my clients have made, that environment continues to exist, and kids are harmed in the process.”

The commission will now reconsider its decision. Fenske said her clients do not know how long it will take and said it was too soon to discuss what the plan of action would be should the commission rule to dismiss the complaint again.

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: malakabas_

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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