UBC Graduate Research

Schoolteachers' Freedom of Expression : mapping the legal terrain in Canada and the policy debate in Brazil Feitosa de Britto, Tatiana


The paper examines the scope of freedom of expression for schoolteachers in publicly funded non-denominational schools in Canada, as a frame to reflect upon a policy debate in Brazil. In that country a vocal movement – School without Party – pushes for legislation to counter alleged practices of teacher indoctrination. Building upon the discussion of principles derived from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, legal precepts embedded in Canadian provincial legislation, and broad normative expectations on teachers’ role and position in Canadian society, selected case law is explored and four dimensions related to the issue are sketched: 1) the extended sites of control for teachers’ expression due to their professional identity; 2) the interdiction to engage in discriminatory or hate speech, which cause harm; 3) the value attached to cognitive dissonance and the space given to addressing sensitive topics in curricular speech and classroom materials; and 4) the possibilities for teacher engagement, on school property or during work hours, in political advocacy in the education field, especially when it involves reproach of government policy. The analysis concludes that the binomial of trust/responsibility seems to guide the interpretation of teachers’ freedom of expression in Canada, in stark contrast with the premises and practices adopted by School without Party in Brazil. Recognizing the value of debating parameters for teachers’ expression, the paper argues for an approach based on constructive dialogue and responsible teaching, grounded in the Brazilian constitutional principles and the broad notion of preventing harm, instead of the problematic assumptions and tactics embraced by School without Party.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International