Atheist Family in Ontario Finally Puts an End to Public School Distribution of Holy Books

Last year, I wrote about how, in Toronto, the Gideons wanted to distribute Bibles to fifth grade students and how the District School Board of Niagara was letting them do it.

Rene and Anna Chouinard, who have three kids in the district, attempted to put a stop to that for years, beginning in 2009. They told the school board that if the Gideons could distribute Bibles to children, then they should be able to distribute copies of Dan Barker‘s Just Pretend: A Free Thought Book for Children and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. That year, the school board ended up saying no to both kinds of books.

The year after, the board changed their policy to allow for the distribution of all religious materials. The Chouinards said Fine! Let us distribute our atheist books!… and the school board said no.

Huh?! The Bibles were okay, but the atheist books were not? What gives?

Only last year did a court finally agree to look at the case.

Rene Chouinard

It took a year, but the Chouinards have finally prevailed! The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has said this is clearly an example of discrimination against atheists:

In this case, there is no question that the first version of the policy, permitting students to receive literature in the public schools from one creed, but not others, violated the norm of substantive equality. It promoted prejudice and stereotyping by suggesting that non-Christians, including atheists, are less worthy and valuable than others of having their creed included in the public school system. It perpetuated historical disadvantage of non-Christians, including atheists, in public institutions.

The school board has agreed to abide by the decision.

Hats off to the Chouinards for their work calling out unfair Christian privilege. It took years for victory to emerge, but they forced the change and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

(via My Secret Atheist Blog)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.