A transgender man is fighting to get a $10,000 payout from a school after being suspended from the school for refusing to comply with school rules about gender expression.
The boy, identified only as C., has been the subject of a long, bitter legal battle with the Canadian Secondary School for Boys over whether he is transgender.
The court heard the boy, now 16, was suspended in August 2014 from the Grade 9 and 12 school in Victoria for failing to conform to gender identity and expression standards.
His parents filed a claim in the Federal Court of Canada on Thursday alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity, expression and expression of a disability.
The federal court judge, Justice J. Scott Macdonald, has yet to rule on the claim, which has been before him for about two years.
The school’s principal, John L. Cogswell, defended the school and its actions against the boy.
“We do not have the ability to make that decision,” he told CBC News on Friday.
“We have a duty to ensure that students do not feel discriminated against, that they are safe, that everyone feels valued and that everyone is treated equally.”
“Our actions are in accordance with the law, and that’s what we have to do.”
He said there was no evidence to support his argument that the boy was discriminated against.
The case has attracted national attention.
On Friday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. aired a documentary on the case.
It also aired an excerpt from a book on the topic by former federal Liberal justice and current professor Michael Bryant.
The Canadian Association of School Boards said it was shocked by the allegations.
“Our role is to ensure children are safe and welcome in our schools, and we are committed to respecting the dignity and worth of each individual child, no matter their identity or gender expression,” it said in a statement.
The B.C. Secondary School Education Association also condemned the case, saying its members are working to ensure all students are treated equally.
“The issue of transgender issues is not new to the B.S.S.,” said its president, John M. Tait.
“It is something that has been raised, discussed and dealt with, but never quite addressed.
The issues we face in the schools today are much more complex, and require much more careful consideration.”
He says the board is committed to supporting the transgender students who have experienced discrimination at schools across the province, including by taking the necessary steps to ensure they are treated respectfully and in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
A spokesman for the school system in B.A.C., John R. McCurdy, said the school board will be seeking further information from the judge, who is expected to issue a ruling in the coming weeks.