Trinity Western University v British Columbia College of Teachers

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Trinity Western University v British Columbia College of Teachers
Supreme Court of Canada 2.jpg
Hearing: November 9, 2000
Judgment: May 17, 2001
Full case nameBritish Columbia College of Teachers v Trinity Western University and Donna Gail Lindquist
Citations Trinity Western University v. College of Teachers, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 772, 2001 SCC 31
Court Membership
Chief Justice: Beverley McLachlin
Puisne Justices: Claire L'Heureux-Dubé, Charles Gonthier, Frank Iacobucci, John C. Major, Michel Bastarache, Ian Binnie, Louise Arbour, Louis LeBel
Reasons given
MajorityIacobucci and Bastarache JJ., joined by McLachlin C.J. and Gonthier, Major, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel JJ.
DissentL’Heureux-Dubé J.

Trinity Western University v British Columbia College of Teachers, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 772, 2001 SCC 31, is a leading Supreme Court of Canada decision on the freedom of religion and the court's ability to review a private school's policies.

Supreme Court of Canada highest court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada, the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts. Its decisions are the ultimate expression and application of Canadian law and binding upon all lower courts of Canada, except to the extent that they are overridden or otherwise made ineffective by an Act of Parliament or the Act of a provincial legislative assembly pursuant to section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Freedom of religion freedom practicing of religion

Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one's religion or beliefs.

Contents

Background

Trinity Western University is a private Christian university that sought to take full responsibility for an existing teacher education program jointly run by Trinity Western and Simon Fraser University. The school applied to the British Columbia College of Teachers for the proper certification.

Trinity Western University

Trinity Western University (TWU) is a private Christian liberal arts university in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. It is a member of Universities Canada.

Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Simon Fraser University Canadian public research university in British Columbia

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is a public research university in British Columbia, Canada, with three campuses: Burnaby, Surrey, and Vancouver. The 1.7 km2 (0.66 sq mi) main Burnaby campus on Burnaby Mountain, located 20 km (12 mi) from downtown Vancouver, was established in 1965 and comprises more than 30,000 students and approximately 950 faculty members. The Burnaby campus is on the territory of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), and Kwikwetlem First Nations; the Vancouver campus is on Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam territories; and the Surrey campus is on territories shared by the Kwiketlem, Musqueam, Katzie, Kwantlen, Qayqayt, and Stó:lō peoples.

The College rejected Trinity Western's application on the grounds that the school's community standards policy, which applied to all students, faculty, and staff, prohibited "homosexual behaviour". The College argued that this policy was discriminatory and that it would not be in the public interest to approve the application.

Opinion of the Court

In an eight to one decision, the Court held that the College "acted unfairly" in rejecting Trinity Western's application. The Court concurred with the lower provincial courts, stating that "[i]n considering the religious precepts of TWU instead of the actual impact of these beliefs on the public school environment, the BCCT acted on the basis of irrelevant considerations."

The Court further observed that "[t]here is nothing in the TWU Community Standards, which are limited to prescribing conduct of members while at TWU, that indicates that graduates of TWU will not treat homosexuals fairly and respectfully. The evidence to date is that graduates from the joint TWU-SFU teacher education program have become competent public school teachers, and there is no evidence before this Court of discriminatory conduct." [1]

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References

  1. "Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers".