About the Issue
Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of everyone’s sense of self. Over the past few decades, the rights movement of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGTBQ) Canadians have advanced at an unprecedented rate. With provincial human rights codes expanding to include sexual orientation, the 1995 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that sexual orientation is an enumerated ground for protection from discrimination under s. 15 of the Charter, and Canada becoming the fourth country worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage in 2005, Canada has made major strides toward formal legal equality for the LGTBQ community.
Why This Matters
Unfortunately, despite the progress that has been made for the LGTBQ community, human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity still occur all too often in Canada. These include stigmatization, censorship, discrimination in health care, jobs and housing, domestic violence, bullying against children/youth, and the denial of family rights and recognition. Being denied basic services and/or provisions because of the way you were born and the way you feel is an affront to a person’s dignity.
- CCLA made written submissions to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, endorsing Bill C-279, a Bill that would give explicit recognition to the rights of trans people by adding gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- CCLA presented oral and written submissions to the legislative committee looking into Ontario’s Bill 13, an Act to Amend the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters. Specifically, the CCLA’s submissions included an endorsement of a requirement that schools support pupils who wish to establish and lead activities or organizations to promote awareness and understanding of and respect for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities; concern that the bill should clarify the right of students, subject to reasonable limits, to choose the name of their clubs (gay straight alliance, rainbow club, etc), a recommendation that transphobia and gender identity be addressed throughout the bill
- CCLA, working with it’s Education Trust program, have created a guide to LGBTQ rights in schools. This resource will help students, allies, and teachers better understand students’ rights, and how to take positive action toward making schools a safer place for all.
When it became apparent that certain schools had banned or effectively prevented the formation of LGBTQ-positive student clubs, such as gay-straight alliances (GSAs), CCLA took a leadership role in responding. CCLA addressed school boards, raised awareness on the topic and engaged the public through the media; met students to hear their stories, offer support and legal information; referred a number of students from across Canada to legal counsel; and made submissions on Bill 13 [as above].
CCLA, working with its Education Trust program, has published a guide to LGBTQ rights in schools. This resource will help students, allies, and teachers better understand students’ rights under the Charter, human rights laws, and Ontario’s Education Act, and how to take positive action toward making schools more safe and inclusive. CCLA will be expanding the scope of the Guide to provide specific information about the education laws of additional provinces and territories.