jurisdiction of the respondent Hamilton-Wentworth District
School Board (the “Board”). E.T. is a committed Christian and a
member of the Greek Orthodox Church.
[ 2] The appellant advised the Board that his religious beliefs
require him to shelter his children from what his religion
regards as “false teachings”. He provided the Board with
a standard form list of topics that included matters such as
“moral relativism”, “environmental worship”, “instruction in sex
education” and “discussion or portrayals of homosexual/bisexual
conduct and relationships and/or transgenderism as natural,
healthy or acceptable”. He asked the Board to provide him with
advance notice of any classroom instruction or discussion of
these issues so that he could decide whether or not to withdraw
his children from those classes or activities.
[ 3] The Board offered to exempt the appellant’s children from
the “Healthy Living” strand in the elementary program, which is
offered as a discrete part of the curriculum and involves education on human development and sexual health. However, the
Board explained to the appellant that its equity policy aims to
provide an integrated secular and respectful learning environment that does not discriminate against any child. The Board’s
program aims to promote a positive and inclusive environment
that accepts all pupils, including those of any sexual orientation,
gender identity and gender expression. The Board advised E.T.
that, given the integrated nature of its program and the generality of the items on his list, it was neither practical nor possible to
comply with his request for prior notification of any time one of
the items on his list would arise for discussion in the classroom.
The Board also expressed the concern that if E. T.’s children were
required to leave the classroom every time one of these topics
came up for discussion, the Board’s policy of providing an inclusive and non-discriminatory program would be undermined.
[ 4] E.T. brought this application seeking declaratory relief,
asserting that his parental authority over the education of his
children had been denied and that his freedom of religion as
guaranteed under s. 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms was violated by the Board’s failure to provide him
with the accommodation he requested. He also asserted a claim
of religious discrimination under the Human Rights Code,
R.S.O. 1990, c. H. 19 and a violation of the Education Act, R.S.O.
1990, c. E. 2.
[ 5] E.T.’s application rested on the general assertion that the
Board’s policies and decisions violated his religious freedom. He
provided no evidence of any actual instance where his or his
children’s religious freedom had been violated.