Volume 91, Issue 43

Thursday, November 13, 1997

$48 refund


Sexual standards questions at B.C. university

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

The British Columbia College of Teachers is in conflict with Trinity Western University over the revamping of a current educational program due to dicey questions asked about sexual practices.

Since the mid-1980s, Trinity has had an arrangement with Simon Fraser University in which students are offered the opportunity to attend a one-year teaching degree at SFU upon completion of a Bachelor of Arts at Trinity.

Joy McCullough, chair of the teachers education department at Trinity, said they would like to incorporate the education program into the university and have had approval to do so by Supreme Court judge Justice Davies. The BCCT has since filed an appeal to get the approval revoked because of questions asked on a statement of responsibility.

The Statement of Community Standards includes a description of behaviour students are required to refrain from, including premarital sex, adultery and homosexual behavior.

"We teach people of all different orientations, but are asking students not to participate in certain behaviours," McCullough said.

Doug Smart, registrar and senior staff person at the BCCT, said they are opposed to integrating the teaching program because questions asked label homosexual behaviour as a sin.

"Because Trinity is a privately-funded institution, they can ask these kinds of questions but when you move into the public realm, it becomes an issue."

The BBCT has asked the new program be held over until a final decision and the appeal is heard in spring and also wants the whole appeal to be heard expeditiously.

Allen Pearson, dean of Western's faculty of education, said the British Columbia College of Teachers has a right to look at the standards an institution proposes which should not exclude people based on private choices they make. "I am opposed to a public institution governing private lives."

LeRoy Whitehead, associate dean in the faulty of education at Queen's University, said they have a similar structured program where Trent University students can attend the Queen's education program but does not consider this kind of questionnaire appropriate.

Although Queen's does not agree with the practice of the questionnaire, they are planning to lobby the Ontario College of Teachers for permission to perform criminal record checks on applicants and offenses incurred against children, he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997