News & Analysis

Judicial Jekyll & Hyde: Appeals Court says Yes and No to parentalrights

For six years, Campaign Life Coalition has been supporting Steve Tourloukis, the Hamilton father who sued his school board for refusing to give him a religious accommodation with respect to certain controversial sex ed topics. Our support has been financial and material in other ways.

In November 2016, Dr. Tourloukis lost a lower court lawsuit against the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board in which he demanded the right to know what his children are being taught about human sexuality.

He quickly appealed the horribly flawed ruling of the liberal-activist, lower court judge and had an appeal hearing in June 2017.

On Wednesday November 22, the Court of Appeal for Ontario issued a disjointed ruling that in one breath said Yes to parental rights, and in the next, said No.

In the decision, Justice Lauwers (with Justice Miller concurring) made bold statements that put the state in its proper place, making it clear that the state’s authority is subordinate to that of parents:

“Education of the young is bound to be formative; if the state educates the young, it also forms them, at least in part, and perhaps the major part. However, the right of parents to care for their children and make decisions for their well-being, including decisions about education, is primary, and the state’s authority is secondary to that parental right. This has been recognized in many different cases, statutes, and international instruments.”

Campaign Life Coalition was further encouraged to see the court indicate that a section of the Education Act being used by the HWDSB to justify violating Tourloukis’ parental rights, may in fact be unconstitutional.

Its constitutionality was not a subject of this particular appeal, so the judges refrained from making a definitive declaration.

“The ruling seems to provide a roadmap to pursuing a constitutional challenge against section 169.1 of the Education Act. The HWDSB points to this section as giving it a statutory obligation to weave homosexuality and transgender ideology throughout every grade level from K-12, and in every subject, including math and science.” said Jack Fonseca, Senior Political Strategist for Campaign Life Coalition.

“The court’s inference that S.169 might be deemed to be unconstitutional at some point in the future is a useful finding that needs to be followed up."

"Perhaps now is the time for new parents to step forward and join the legal challenge in some capacity or to launch separate challenges, with documented evidence of indoctrination and the purposeful undermining of a family’s religious beliefs by teachers. We know this is going on all over”.

In spite of the positive findings on parental rights, the court nonetheless dismissed Tourloukis’ appeal, citing “the lack of concrete evidence” that a teacher ever actually presented his children with a “value judgement” on these sensitive topics. This dismissal leaves the father at the cruel mercy of the school board.

“It is ridiculous to tell parents that they must first allow harm to be inflicted on their kids before they can apply for relief.” said Jeff Gunnarson, Vice President of Campaign Life Coalition. “The very reason this dad is seeking a remedy is so that his children do not suffer harm by having teachings imposed that offend their spiritual identities as Greek Orthodox Christians.”

Campaign Life Coalition thanks Dr. Tourloukis for his bravery in standing up for all our parental rights, and will pray for his family as they discerns next steps.

In the meantime, if you would like to help Dr. Tourloukis cover his outstanding legal expenses, please send a donation to Campaign Life Coalition.

Earmark your donation for the “Tourloukis defense fund” in the comments field at Step 2 of the donation form.

Thanks, and God bless.