As this school year draws to a close, West Coast LEAF is reflecting on one of the things we value most: education. Education is a tool of empowerment, the backbone of a strong and informed public. The more we know about how inequality impacts us and each other and what we can do about it, the better we are able to speak out and have a hand in shaping the laws, policies, and practices affecting us and our communities.
West Coast LEAF runs more than a thousand public legal education workshops a year for youth and adults, and every time, we learn just as much as we teach. Using an interactive format, our workshops explore the law and our rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms through a social justice lens, unpacking complex topics such as equality rights, employment standards, sexual assault, online harassment, financial issues in family law, parenting rights and responsibilities in family law, and more.
We are deeply committed to inclusive education – and the growing public dialogue over education shows that this commitment is widely shared. Concern is mounting over the way sexual assault complaints are received and (mis)handled on college and university campuses. Some school boards are updating their gender identity and sexual orientation anti-discrimination policies. When we visit elementary and high schools to deliver workshops, we notice an increasing number of gender-neutral washrooms (though many more are still needed).
West Coast LEAF is heartened by these signs that our society is increasingly acknowledging the importance and value of including everyone in our educational spaces.
The importance of inclusion and equality of access in education is at the forefront of our minds this month, as we wait to hear from the Court on our application for leave to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Trinity Western University (TWU) case.
The decision of Canada’s top court will determine whether TWU can operate a law school when its admissions and hiring policies discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, marital status, and gender. As always, West Coast LEAF will continue our work to ensure that legal education is for everyone.
If you are a teacher or work with a community organization and would like to book one of our workshops, please contact our Manager of Public Legal Education Alana Prochuk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-684-8772, ext. 117. We’d love to connect with you!