Law Matters | Summer 2019

LGBTQ Youth, Parental Rights, and Religious Freedom

It is an exciting time for all of us at Law Matters. For the first time in our magazine’s history, we were cited by the Supreme Court of Canada this summer. Professor Ummni Khan’s fantastic article (“Hot for Kink, Bothered by the Law”), which was published in our Summer 2016 Edition, was cited in R v Goldfinch, 2019 SCC 38 at para 185. Further, after two years of serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Law Matters, Joshua Sealy-Harrington will, over the course of the next year, be passing on the reins to the incomparable Jessica Robertshaw. Jessica has worked with the magazine for the past year, is an accomplished writer and advocate (including as Top Oralist of the prestigious Jessup Moot), and is excited to continue pushing the magazine towards critical discourse on important issues confronting Albertans, and Canadians — and this edition is no exception. Questions relating to LGBTQ youth are at the forefront of contemporary political controversy. So, in this edition, our contributors tackled various issues intersecting LGBTQ youth, including trans rights, sex education, religious freedom, and parental autonomy.

We begin with two articles on trans issues authored, importantly, by trans jurists. First, Pat Shannon, a non-binary jurist, opens this edition by analyzing a recent decision from the Supreme Court of British Columbia concerning a trans boy’s access to medical care for gender dysphoria. Pat notes how the Court’s decision — to permit the boy’s access to medical care — is cause for mostly celebration (in terms of trans recognition, safety, and autonomy), but also some concern (given the Court’s affirmation of clinical gatekeeping). Second, Florence Ashley, a transfeminine jurist, provides a blueprint for legal action against conversion therapy practices. Florence acknowledges the many benefits of legislation against conversion therapy, but they also explain how, even without such legislation, alternate legal avenues may also be pursued to curtail such practices.

Next, this edition explores the conflict between LGBTQ youth, parental autonomy, and religious freedom. First, Derek Ross and Deina Warren discuss the interplay between parental and state authority with respect to children’s moral education. Second, Pamela Krause and Hilary Mutch discuss Gay-Straight Alliances (“GSAs”), and the critical role they play in ameliorating the difficulties faced by LGBTQ students — in their words, GSAs “literally save lives.” Third, Marcus McCann criticizes Ontario’s recent repeal of its inclusive sex ed curriculum. He summarizes recent efforts to legally challenge the repeal, and emphasizes the importance of centring LGBTQ voices in the fight for their equality.

Lastly, for this edition’s “Unsung Hero” column, Beth Aspinall profiled recent UCalgary Law graduate Jay Moch. Jay launched the University of Calgary chapter of OUTLaw, worked with Pro Bono Students Canada to create Trans ID Clinics in Alberta to assist trans youth in officially changing their name and gender-markers, and is now seeking out sponsors to provide funding to trans clients, and in turn, attenuate the burdensome costs associated with changing one’s name and gender markers. As these pieces make clear, issues relating to LGBTQ youth raise complex questions of equality, safety, and freedom. And it is our hope that the pieces included here help contribute to a productive conversation on the tensions between LGBTQ rights, parental rights, and religious freedom.

Joshua Sealy-Harrington & Jessica Robertshaw
Editors, CBA Alberta Law Matters