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Tyee poll on Trinity Western garners huge response

Last week, The Tyee asked readers whether Trinity Western University should be allowed to grant law degrees. The question attracted 1,342 respondents and generated 918 comments, far more than other recent Tyee polls.

The private, evangelical Christian university in B.C.'s Fraser Valley requires its students and faculty to adhere to a "community covenant" that prohibits sexual intimacy that "violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman," among other things.

Nearly 70 per cent of respondents said "no," citing a variety of reasons for their answer.

Some focused on the school's religious affiliation and expressed concern that it would affect the way the law, a secular subject, is taught. Wrote one respondent:

"The Law applies to all members of society regardless of sexual orientation or faith. If students are not educated to include all levels of society in their practices they become targets of bias, racism and favouritism that repels justice in a multicultural society."

Others labeled the school's practice discriminatory:

"The institution is discriminating on the grounds of one's privately held personal beliefs and behaviour."

And cited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

"The law in Canada must serve all people, without fear or favour. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees no discrimination on many grounds, including sexual orientation, which is a protected ground 'read in' to the list in the Charter. Certainly lawyers have their own biases and ideas on what is 'right', but we must not reinforce or institutionalize this sort of discrimination."

But the more than 30 per cent of respondents who said "yes," the school should be allowed to grant degrees, also saw the Charter as being on their side. As one voter put it:

"Our Charter protects the freedom of religion for all and just because the graduates have agreed to live by these rules does not mean they believe in forcing others to do so. It is voluntary."

Others focused on the wording of the school's covenant, which they argue is not discriminatory:

"Trinity Western does not ban homosexuals. It just requires that both heterosexuals and homosexuals abstain from sex outside of Biblical requirements. Both heterosexuals and homosexuals may choose to attend another university if they do not feel they can adhere to this covenant. There are many other opportunities to study at many other institutions in the area that do not have this requirement."

The Tyee Poll is not a scientific poll, but rather is intended to simply get the pulse of Tyee readers and the wider community. 

Ian Holliday is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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