Hello, Class of 2018!
We are the co-chairs of UBC OutLaws, the LGBTQ+ student group at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, and we’d like to welcome you to the community and answer a few questions you might have about us.
What does OutLaws do?
OutLaws works to foster a supportive community for LGBTQ+ law students and their allies and to promote awareness of legal issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community at large.
That means, for starters, that we hold social events such as Cheers for Queers, a pub night for queer and allied faculty, staff and students, and we keep folks up to date with community news via our Facebook group, UBC OutLaws.
We also host events exploring LGBTQ+ issues in a legal context. Last January, we presented a panel discussion on trans* and genderqueer rights and the law, with speakers Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver West End, and Adrienne Smith, Health and Drug Policy Advocate with Pivot Legal Society.
Lastly, we work to represent the interests of LGBTQ+ students in the community. For example, a representative from UBC OutLaws sits on the Executive of the SOGIC (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference) section of the Canadian Bar Association in BC to maintain connections with the broader queer legal community.
What’s happening this summer?
As some of you may know, following an October 2014 referendum in which 5,951 BC lawyers (74% of those who voted) chose to deny approval for Trinity Western University’s (TWU) proposed faculty of law, the Law Society of BC decided not to grant approval for the purpose of its admission program. Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk later revoked his approval for the law school. TWU then filed a petition for judicial review of the Law Society’s decision.
This is of interest to UBC OutLaws because TWU requires its students, faculty, and staff to sign a Community Covenant Agreement that, among other things, requires them to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
UBC OutLaws believes that this requirement discriminates against LGBTQ+ people. We believe that LGBTQ+ students should have equal access to legal education and not face exclusion or discrimination on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation.
The exciting news is that UBC OutLaws has recently been given intervener status in TWU and Brayden Volkenant v The Law Society of BC as part of a coalition with QMUNITY and the OutLaws groups from Thompson Rivers University and the University of Victoria. This means we’ll have the opportunity to voice our concerns about how the outcome of this case will affect queer folks generally and queer students who want to attend law school in particular. The hearing starts on August 24th, so stay tuned!
How can new students get involved?
We encourage all LGBTQ+ and allied law students to get involved with OutLaws.
For updates on OutLaws events and other community news, you can join our Facebook group. If you have questions or would like to talk, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to look for the OutLaws Meet and Greet on the Orientation 2015 schedule — we look forward to meeting you!
Elizabeth Cameron and May Chan
UBC OutLaws Co-Chairs, 2015-2016