Social Justice 12 human rights application is ‘premature,’ court rules

An application by the Abbotsford board of education to dismiss a human rights complaint is premature, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled last week.

An application by the Abbotsford board of education to dismiss a human rights complaint is premature, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled last week.

The complaint, brought forward by gay married couple Murray and Peter Corren, centres around the Social Justice 12 course.

The board of education had previously applied to the Human Rights Tribunal to have the complaint thrown out. When the tribunal declined to do that, the board went to the Supreme Court, asking for a review of the matter.

The creation of the Social Justice 12 course arose out of the 2006 settlement of a human rights complaint brought by the Correns against the Ministry of Education.

The Correns alleged that the school curriculum in B.C. discriminated against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people by failing to include any information about them.

Social Justice 12 was introduced as an elective course in the province in 2008. The course was initially offered in Abbotsford at W. J. Mouat Secondary, and 90 students signed up.

The Correns allege that trustees withdrew the course three weeks before it was to begin, claiming the board of education had received complaints about some of its content, including sexual orientation, gender identity and homophobia.

The couple filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal in October 2008.

The board of education reinstated Social Justice 12 for September 2009, but required students to obtain parental consent, which the Correns said was  discriminatory.

Peter Corren died of cancer in December of that year, but Murray decided to proceed with the complaint.

The board of education requested that the Human Rights Tribunal dismiss the matter because the Correns were neither parents nor students in the district, and their complaint was too broad, representing some 19,000 students and their parents.

The tribunal agreed that the complaint should be amended, but not that it be dismissed.

The Supreme Court ruled last week that a judicial review of the decision to proceed with the matter is premature, and Murray should first be permitted to provide the amended complaint to the tribunal.

The board of education is entitled to bring forward another application to dismiss the matter once the complainants are more clearly defined, Justice Lynn Smith said.