Trinity Western law school would be an affront to LGBT equality, Supreme Court hears
Xtra covers Adriel Weaver’s submissions before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Trinity Western University appeals
Two appeals involving Trinity Western University’s proposed law school were heard by the Supreme Court of Canada on November 30th and December 1st.
TWU wants the law societies in British Columbia and Ontario to accredit the proposed law school. This would give graduates of the proposed law school automatic eligibility to be called to the bar in Ontario.
The law societies have refused to accredit the proposed law school because TWU requires all students and faculty to sign a Community Covenant which states that the only healthy form of sexuality occurs within a marriage between a man and a woman. Breaching the Covenant can lead to sanctions, up to and including expulsion. The law societies determined that it was not in the public interest to accredit a law school with a discriminatory admissions policy.
TWU takes the position that its law school would “not be for everyone”, and suggested before the Supreme Court that LGBT students wouldn’t not be interested in attending the school.
However, as Xtra reports, Egale Canada, represented by Adriel Weaver, “laid out the numerous reasons why LGBT students may end up at Canada’s largest Christian university.”
“There’s no dispute that LGBTQ students have attended and do attend TWU and no reason to think that LGBTQ students would not similarly attend TWU’s proposed law school,” said Adriel Weaver, the lawyer for Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, one of many groups that intervened in the case. “They must not be disregarded or discounted.”
The assumption that LGBT students wouldn’t want to attend Trinity Western’s law school was implicit in many of the questions posed by the Supreme Court justices on the first day of the trial. But Weaver laid out the numerous reasons why LGBT students may end up at Canada’s largest Christian university.
It could be the only law school seat that was offered to them or the only institution their family would be willing to help pay for. They might live close to the university, which is located in Langley, BC. Some students will undoubtedly only come to terms with their sexuality during their three years of law school. Others will specifically want a Christian legal education despite their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Awareness and experience of one’s gender identity and sexuality can evolve over time,” Weaver said. “And the full effects of the covenant might only be felt after a student has become part of TWU’s community.”
By bringing the discussion back to LGBT students at Trinity Western, Weaver and other intervenors revealed the stark consequences of the community covenant’s sanctioned homophobia.