Christians in British Columbia, Canada, are worried that courts are undermining their religious rights in the classroom. They are troubled by courts' willingness to let teachers use pro-gay books in the classroom.
In 1997 the Surrey School Board told gay-rights activist James Chamberlain that he could not teach his kindergarten students using the books One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads; Asha's Mums; and Belinda's Bouquet. The board said the books would offend some parents' religious views. Chamberlain sued, saying the board violated the provincial School Act, which requires public schools to be "secular and nonsectarian."
In late December, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 7-2 in Chamberlain v. the Surrey School Board that the school board must reconsider its classroom ban.
The case has alarmed Christian parents and educators in British Columbia. Brenda Hauser said she plans to send her children in grades 4, 5, and 7, who now attend a Surrey public school, to a Christian school. "I'm completely for teaching my children tolerance and to love another student who may have gay parents," Hauser said. "But these books … are propaganda for a lifestyle."
Catholic and evangelical concerns in the Surrey school district are mounting, says Dave Leuwen, principal of Mennonite Educational Institute's secondary school in nearby Abbotsford. Surrey is the province's largest public school district, with 62,000 students.
"British Columbia's public school numbers have declined by 7,000 in the past few years, with about 2,000 of that drop attributed to enrollments in independent schools," Leuwen said.
He links the migration to a series of legal cases on sexual orientation. "Our enrollments have doubled in the past six years," Leuwen said.
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