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Schools and other educational institutions in Canada
The rights of LGBT students and staff in an educational institution vary considerably depending on whether the institution is religious and/or open to the public, since human rights acts do not prohibit discrimination against pupils of private schools and the Charter does not prohibit discrimination by churches, associations and businesses, while section 2 of the Charter protects freedom of religion and section 93 of the Constitution recognizes the right to denominational schools in certain cases.|
The curriculum of public schools, particularly in British Columbia, are now being amended to incorporate LGBT topics.
Religious educational institutions may in many cases discriminate based on sexual orientation against students and staff according to religious doctrine. Nevertheless, if they rent facilities to the general public on a commercial basis without regard to their religion, they may not refuse to rent them to LGBT groups
However, most educational institutions, including privately-owned schools open to the general public, are public services. They are subject to human rights acts and are strictly required to not discriminate against staff or students based on all the prohibited grounds, including sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS (and probably transsexuality and possibly transgenderism, see Grounds of prohibited discrimination above). They are strictly liable for harassment, name-calling and bullying of students and staff by staff on these grounds. In addition, as a result of the Jubrandecision, they are liable for most such behaviour by students. They may be liable for anti-gay bullying even if the victim is not gay, nor believed to be (e.g. when a bully knowingly makes a false claim that a girl is a lesbian so that she will be ostracized or bullied by others or pressured to have sex with a boy to prove otherwise).
Furthermore, it may not be enough for schools to progressively discipline bullies when this is ineffective. Schools are responsible for providing an educational environment that is free from discriminatory harassment, and this may require them to provide "resources to adopt a broader, educative approach to deal with the difficult issues of harassment, homophobia and discrimination." The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal from the Jubran decision, thus adding to its authoritativeness.
Public education governance bodies may place limits on the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion rights of teachers and school counsellors with respect to statements they may make regarding LGBT issues, both on and off the job. Teachers and school counsellors are considered to hold positions of trust and influence over young people and are required to ensure that their public statements do not impair public confidence in the school system or create an unwelcoming or intolerant school environment.
There are no legal exceptions that limit the rights of LGBT students specifically, except that the Yukon Human Rights Act defines sexual orientation in a way that excludes minors from protection. The constitutionality of this wording is dubious (see discussion above).
As of 2006, few schools in Canada have implemented the Jubran requirements, and anti-gay bullying and name-calling by students Anti-gay insults such as "faggot," "queer", "homo" and "gay" are generally considered to be the most offensive and hurtful of all insults. Among youths, the use of the word "gay" has been extended so that it means inferior, worthless, effeminate or stupid in general; it does not necessarily mean homosexual. The rate of suicide and depression among LGBT youths is widespread, especially when they first come out to themselves, have little support or are subject to bullying and ostracism. To counter homophobia and bullying in school and to provide support to LGBT students, students in some schools have set up gay–straight alliances or similar groups, sometimes with support from teachers associations.
LGBT influence on national politics
In the House of Commons, three parties support LGBT rights with varying degrees. The New Democratic Party and Bloc Québécois are the most vocal supporters of these rights, and the Liberal Party of Canada is divided in its approach to the issue, but it mainly advocates equal rights for LGBT citizens. The Conservative Party of Canada is largely opposed to LGBT rights, although some members, typically former members of the Progressive Conservative Party, have supported LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage. Former members of the Canadian Alliance have generally opposed expanded LGBT rights, and some former CA MPs who are now Conservative MPs have been rebuked for calls to re-criminalize homosexuality.
Svend Robinson is notable for having been the first MP to come out as gay, in spring 1988. He has since been followed by other gay and lesbian politicians in Parliament: fellow New Democrats Libby Davies, Bill Siksay, Philip Toone, and Dany Morin; Bloc Québécois MPs Réal Ménard and Raymond Gravel; and Liberal Party of Canada MPs Scott Brison, Mario Silva, and Rob Oliphant, as well as Senators Laurier LaPierre and Nancy Ruth. The New Democratic Party's shadow cabinet contains a critic for LGBT rights, the only spokesperson so designated in the House.
There are currently five members of the House of Commons and one senator who openly identify as gay or lesbian. There are two former MPs and one retired senator who openly identify as such.
Chris Lea, leader of the Green Party of Canada from 1990 to 1996, was the first openly gay political party leader in Canada. Svend Robinson became in 1995 the first openly gay candidate for the leadership of a political party with representation in the House of Commons, although he was not successful. André Boisclair, the former leader of the Parti Québécois, became the first openly gay leader of a party with parliamentary representation in North America; Allison Brewer, former leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party, was also elected leader as an out lesbian.
The provinces of Ontario (Kathleen Wynne, Glen Murray), British Columbia (Tim Stevenson, Lorne Mayencourt), and Manitoba (Jim Rondeau, Jennifer Howard ) have had openly gay provincial cabinet ministers.