We are writing on behalf of a campaign we have initiated to promote equality for LGBTQ students in legal education. This initiative stems from the application of Trinity Western University (TWU) to open a law school.
Here’s the Scoop:
As you may know, TWU is a private Christian liberal arts university in Langley, BC. TWU requires its students to sign a Community Covenant Agreement to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” (see page 3, here). This covenant discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial human rights legislation.
Beginning last November, a number of organizations and individuals raised concerns about TWU’s discriminatory policies to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC), the accrediting body for all law schools in Canada. The decision to approve the proposed law school is currently before the FLSC. Among the groups that raised concerns were:
> The Canadian Council of Law Deans (CCLD), which stressed its objection to the Community Covenant Agreement’s specific contemplation that LGBTQ students may be subject to disciplinary measures, including expulsion. Here is the CCLD’s letter.> The Canadian Bar Association (CBA), which raised numerous concerns with the proposed law school, underscoring that TWU’s policies were inconsistent with equality rights under the Charter and human rights legislation. Here is the CBA’s letter.
In March, the issue was picked up by media across the country, including coverage by the Toronto Star, the Halifax Chronicle Herald, and CBC Radio’s BC Almanac and The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti.
Here’s What Happened Next:
In response, the FLSC instituted a Special Advisory Committee on the issue of TWU’s acceditation, as outlined in this letter. However, it has recently come to light that despite this committee’s broad terms of reference, the question they are exploring is rather narrow, and will sidestep the most significant and relevant issues (see this article and this article). Obviously, this situation continues to be problematic, and raises equality concerns for LGBTQ individuals, the legal profession, and for those who aspire to join it.
As a result, we have launched Let’s OUTlaw TWU to generate public awareness of and support for our position, and to engage in respectful dialogue on the issues surrounding the proposed law school and the controversial policies of TWU. Our campaign hopes to refocus the discussion at the FLSC level.
Here’s What You Can Do to Help:
As pro-diversity individuals and LGBTQA or Pride organizations, we need your help to spread our message and to unify our support. We would ask that you:
(1) LIKE our Facebook page, invite all of your friends to do the same, and post our page’s link to your wall.(2) FOLLOW our Twitter handle, at @LOL_TWU, and Tweet your thoughts to us and the hashtag #TWUlaw.&nbs
p;(3) PHOTOGRAPH yourself silenced by “TWU-tape” (just like this). Update your social media profiles with the photo, and post it to our Facebook and Twitter sites.(4) INFORM us of news coverage related to the TWU issue in your community. You can email us at letsOUTlawTWU@gmail.com.(5) WRITE to the FLSC’s Special Advisory Committee, either as an organization or an individual. Their email addresses are available in this Facebook note. We are happy to provide sample correspondence to base your letter on.(6) DISTRIBUTE this information through any listservs, blogs, or newsletters that you or your organization controls.
Should you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, please send us an email or message us through our Facebook page. We look forward to collaborating with you on this important initiative!
Douglas Judson & Jenn Aubrey
Let’s OUTlaw TWU
PS: Be sure to check out No Queer Quota – For Equality in Legal Education!