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article imageB.C. approves Trinity Law School despite anti-gay policy

By Karen Graham     Dec 18, 2013 in Lifestyle
Despite opposition from the LGBT community, the B.C. government has gone ahead and approved the creation of a faith-based law school at Trinity Western University.
Amrik Virk, the Advanced Education Minister, made the announcement at a press briefing on Wednesday, saying the approval meant that the Trinity Western Law School can begin accepting 60 students in September, 2014.
"The Degree Quality Assessment Board reviewed Trinity Western University's proposed law degree and found that it met the degree program quality assessment criteria for private and out-of-province public institutions," said Virk. "As a private institution, Trinity Western does not receive any capital or operating funds from the government."
Virk also said the degree program submitted by the law school met with the approval of the Federation of Law Societies, meaning graduates would meet the required national standards to practice law in Canada.
The biggest objection to the three-year law degree program has been the school's policy against same-sex relationships. All students at Trinity Western University must sign the TWU Community Covenant Agreement, which has a clause that requires abstinence from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman." Any student violating the policy can be expelled.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Council of Law Deans (CCLD), circulated a letter addressed to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, saying the TWU covenant went against the "core values of all Canadian law schools." The letter asked that Federation members consider the discriminatory impact the covenant would have on would-be law students who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
What must be taken into account was the 2001 Canadian Supreme Court Decision that upheld Trinity Western's education program and made it definitive on the question of whether it should have a law school. The ruling made it clear that the College of Teachers, the body that determined the suitability of individuals for a teaching degree, was correct in referring to the Charter and the Human Rights Code in determining whether it was in the public interest to allow public school teachers to receive their training at TWU.
Based on that 2001 decision, that said, "the concern that graduates of TWU will act in a detrimental fashion in the classroom is not supported by any evidence." The Federation had to decide if the TWU law degree program met the criteria to be considered in the best public interest for students to receive training toward getting a law degree.
In his afternoon press briefing, Virk said he was aware of the opposition to the law school by some individuals and groups complaining the law school could not teach students to protect human-rights when the school maintains an anti-gay policy. But Virk explained the issue was beyond the scope of the review.
There are no more regulatory hurdles that TWU needs to meet. The law school will open in September 2016.
More about Law school, Antigay, Private school, law degree, Canadian laws
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