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Top Five 2003: Chamberlain v Surrey School District

Each year at OJEN’s Toronto Summer Law Institute, a judge from the Court of Appeal for Ontario identifies five cases that are of significance in the educational setting. This summary, based on these comments and observations, is appropriate for discussion and debate in the classroom setting.

Chamberlain v Surrey School District No 36, 2002 SCC 86, [2002] 4 SCR 710

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) was asked to consider whether the Surrey, B.C. School Board was reasonable in disallowing books that depicted same-sex parents in classrooms.  The School Board was concerned that the books would create controversy in light of some parents’ religious objections to the morality of same‑sex relationships.  The SCC determined that the School Board’s decision was unreasonable because it did not comply with the broad principles of tolerance and secularism underlying the legislation that governed the School Board. The full decision is available here.

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