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North Vancouver school board fights ruling on harassment of gay student

Bullied through high school with homophobic epithets, Azmi Jubran sought justice

HOLDING SCHOOLS ACCOUNTABLE. Azmi Jubran tackled the system. Credit: (Jacques Gaudet)

The North Vancouver school board wants to appeal April’s BC Court of Appeal ruling in the Azmi Jubran case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Jubran filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal in 1996 while he was a grade 10 student at Handsworth Secondary School.

The complaint alleged Jubran’s classmates taunted and bullied him all through high school with homophobic epithets.

In 2002, the BC Human Rights Tribunal awarded Jubran $4,500 in damages. That ruling was overturned in 2003 and then overturned again, back in Jubran’s favour, earlier this year.

“I’m not surprised that they’re appealing,” Jubran says of the school board’s latest decision to appeal. “They seem to be fighting it tooth and nail. They should have just done something about the harassment at the time.”

Jubran suspects the North Vancouver school board is fighting his case to the bitter end because of liability issues. If the board admits culpability in his case, it could be liable for an avalanche of claims from people who endured harassment at the hands of schoolyard bullies, Jubran says. “My case is a landmark.”

Ken Neale, Safe and Caring Schools Coordinator for the North Vancouver school district, concurs.

“The insurer for all school districts has made the decision [to pursue the case to the Supreme Court] because of limits on liability,” says Neale.

Once the school board files its appeal, it will be up to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear the case.