Published date28 September 2018
Date28 September 2018
AuthorHelen Jefferson Lenskyj University of Toronto, Canada
As an activist on gender and sport issues since the early
1980s, I had my rst brush with the lawin 1986 when
I participated as an expert witness in the case of Justine
Blainey, a 12-year-old ice hockey player in Toronto, Canada.
Blainey had tried out for a boysteam and had qualied,
but was barred because the Ontario (mens) Hockey
Association (OHA) prohibited girls from playing with boys.
The Ontario Womens Hockey Association also objected,
predicting that mixed gender teams would signify the end of
girlshockey as we know it. Unfortunately for Blainey, the
1981 Ontario Human Rights Code did not protect the rights
of female athletes; Section 19.2 specically exempted sport/
gender complaints.
The legal battles began at the Divisional Court of Ontario,
which ruled against Blainey, but in 1986 the Ontario Court
of Appeal struck down Section 19.2 on the grounds that it
contravened the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
OHA persevered in an unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme
Court of Canada, and, in 1987, the Ontario Human Rights
Commission ruled that OHA and Blaineys club had violated
the (revised) Code (Vella, 1989). Despite these changes, the

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