Crossing the line: homophobic speech and public school teachers
Clarke, T. Paul
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The issue of a teacher's expressed homophobic views outside the classroom and how those can be taken to affect his position as a teacher in a public school system has recently come up in the Kempling case. The case raises a host of educational and legal questions. In this article, we examine the competing constitutional claims relating to liberty and equality. On one hand, the teacher maintained that his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, set out respectively under ss. 2(a) and 2(b) of the Charter, allowed him to make his controversial, public comments. On the other hand, the equality rights guaranteed under s. 15 of the Charter protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We argue that the suspension of Mr. Kempling by the British Columbia College of Teachers was necessary to uphold the equality rights and interests of gays and lesbians as well as to protect the integrity of the teacher's duty to act as both an educator and a role model.