LGBTQ teachers allege discriminatory hiring practices in Alberta Catholic schools

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WATCH: Two Alberta LGBT teachers have filed human rights complaints against the Catholic schools district. The teachers allege discrimination because of their sexual orientation but as Heather Yourex-West explains in this case, the law may be on the side of the schools – Dec 14, 2018

Catholic bishops in Alberta are planning to address the growing controversy surrounding hiring practices within the province’s separate school districts.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission is currently hearing two cases involving teachers within Calgary’s Catholic school district.

In both cases, members of the LGBTQ community are alleging discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Kristopher Wells, a MacEwan University professor who specializes in LGBTQ issues said these complaints are not unique.

“In the past several years there have been at least two other complaints against school divisions within Alberta alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

READ MORE: Former teacher’s book ‘Homophobia in the Hallways’ takes aim at Calgary Catholic schools 

Wells says those cases, which both involved school districts outside Calgary, were both settled without changes being made to the school district’s hiring policy.

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Many Catholic school districts, including Calgary and Edmonton, require employees sign contracts agreeing to live by Catholic lifestyles and values.

University of Alberta law professor, Eric Adams says that while the requirement may be discriminatory, it could also be within district’s right.

“They might say for example that it is what’s called a bona fide occupational requirement of the job, that it is a particular requirement of the job that individuals be allowed to discriminate against their teachers because we need to have Catholic teachers in order to maintain our Catholic educational system,” Adams said.

In a statement to Global News, the Calgary Catholic School district said it is obligated to ensure an authentic Catholic environment in its schools, “and with that, our contracts include a Catholicity clause that defines our expectations that align with Catholic teachings and principles. All of our teaching candidates have the opportunity to review this expectation in our application process when choosing whether to join the district.”

READ MORE: 61 Alberta schools still not complying with GSA rules: education minister

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