LGBT Discrimination at a B.C. university

In Focus with Gerard Veldhoven

Published on January 31, 2014

Last December a story from British Columbia caught the attention Benjamin Perryman, a Nova Scotia lawyer. Trinity Western University, a Christian school of learning, received full membership with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

Recently, the university opened a law department and that is causing concern within the legal profession. Upon registration to enter the law school a prospective student must sign a covenant which states students must abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Mr. Perryman feels strongly that graduates from the law school, as well as nurses, teachers and others will enter their respective professions and so according to their training may bring inequality that we so desperately need to eliminate.

I agree totally and of course, would suggest also that accreditation not be granted to this university that blatantly discriminates against the LGBT community.

If post-secondary education officials continue this practice, they also contribute to homophobic, discriminatory and non-inclusive attitudes which tears our society apart when our laws dictate equality for all.

TWU is not the only university in Canada that is involved in this sort of practice. New Brunswick’s Crandall University has come under fire for some time for not allowing gay professors on staff. I must point out that TWU does not receive any public funding, but Crandall has received federal funding for up to $6 million and $150,000 a year from the City of Moncton.

The outcry from many, including myself, explaining public funds should not be used to assist a university that openly discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

This, of course, is the result of religious based schools of learning. Crandall officials have not been asking for further assistance from Moncton. Crandall has apologized, but to date has not changed its policy.

As I have stated in a previous column, the publicly funded Catholic School Board in Ontario has drawn controversy lately over refusing high school students to organize gay/straight alliance groups. The Ontario Department of Education has contacted the school board to be in step with other boards in the province and allow such groups. Cardinal Thompson of Toronto has stated that the Catholic Church will “deal with homosexuality in its own way.”

Public funding should be withdrawn if discrimination exists on the basis of sexual orientation. I salute Benjamin Perryman for bringing this issue to the public’s attention and hopefully the N.S. Barristers’ Society will not recognize the law degrees from TWU.

For comments or information: lgbtconnectionsgv@gmail.com .

Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The Amherst News.