The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Friday, December 20, 2002

Surrey school board loses

Canada's top court has ruled that the Surrey, B.C. school board was wrong to ban three books that depicted families with same-sex parents from school classrooms. In a 7-2 decision, the court found that the board had violated provincial legislation requiring that public schools be secular and non-sectarian.

The case dates back to 1997, when the board, then as now dominated by conservative politicians with ties to organization that lobby for "traditional family values", issued an order that primary-school teacher James Chamberlain not use the books Asha's Mums, One Dads, Two Dads, Red Dads, Blue Dads, and Belinda's Bouquet in his classes. The board's decision sparked off confrontation between gay-rights groups and civil libertarians on one side, and religious conservatives and some parent advocates on the other. Schhol trustees in Surrey claimed that they were responding to parental concerns that young children not be exposed to depictions of same-sex relationships; others saw the move as an attempt by the board, and its chair, Heather Stilwell, to advance an anti-gay agenda. Stilwell herself has frequently been a candidate for religious fringe parties such as the Family Coalition and Christian Heritage parties at the provincial and national level, and has made no secret of her desire to have schools return to teaching "traditional values," or to use the power of government as enforcer of said values.

Here's some of the Surrey Scool Board's antics through the 1990's. Any questions?

The left-leaning provincial government of the day was pressured to take over the Surrey school district over the controversy. It never did do so, but that didn't stop an effort by religious groups to recall then-Education Minister Paul Ramsey. The case has cost Surrey taxpayers some $500,000 since the decision was first disputed in BC Supreme Court in 1998.

The question of whether the books can be used has now been sent back to the school board with the warning that it must pay particular attention to the principles of secualrism and non-sectarianism in provincial education law.

The Surrey school board is expected to give its reaction sometime today. The teachers who fought the banning of the books, James Chamberlain and Murray Warren, were delighted at the outcome.


Supreme Court decision in the case of Chamberlain v. Surrey School District No. 36

CBC Online news report with links to interviews and video
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