UCP warn bill could al­low covert sex ed

GSAs ex­empt from parental no­ti­fi­ca­tion: New Democrats

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Edmonton -

Al­berta’s United Con­ser­va­tives say they’re con­cerned the gov­ern­ment is us­ing a bill on gaystraight al­liances to pre­pare for kids to be taught sex ed­u­ca­tion with­out par­ents be­ing told.

“Now is the time for the gov­ern­ment to re­as­sure Al­ber­tans that they have no in­ten­tion of com­ing af­ter their rights as par­ents,’’ United Con­ser­va­tive politi­cian and critic Mike El­lis told the leg­is­la­ture Thurs­day.

“Now is the time for the gov­ern­ment to prove that it doesn’t have any­thing up its sleeve.’’

The bill makes it il­le­gal for school of­fi­cials to tell par­ents when a child joins an al­liance.

El­lis, say­ing it would clear up the is­sue, pro­posed an amend­ment.

Pre­mier Rachel Not­ley’s New Democrats, us­ing their ma­jor­ity, re­jected the amend­ment on the grounds the bill al­ready makes it clear that stu­dent-led so­cial clubs such as gay-straight al­liances do not teach the sex-ed cur­ricu­lum and there­fore are ex­empt from au­to­matic parental no­ti­fi­ca­tion re­quired by law.

“Health les­sons, for ex­am­ple, are taught in health class, but GSAs are peer sup­port groups. There’s a clear dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion there,’’ said Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter David Eggen.

El­lis said it’s a grey area given teacher in­struc­tional doc­u­ments for the al­liances talk about bring­ing in speak­ers or hold­ing ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties.

Gay-straight al­liances are peer-sup­port clubs set up by stu­dents to pro­mote un­der­stand­ing and help LGBTQ kids feel safe and free from bul­ly­ing.

They have been light­ning rods of de­bate in Al­berta given they over­lap the ar­eas of re­li­gion, ed­u­ca­tion, par­ent and stu­dent rights.

De­bate was re­newed this past spring when Ja­son Ken­ney, be­fore he be­came leader of the United Con­ser­va­tives, said par­ents should be no­ti­fied if their chil­dren joined a gaystraight al­liance un­less that put a child at risk.

Ad­vo­cates say it must re­main a child’s choice to tell any­one, in­clud­ing par­ents, about his or her sex­u­al­ity.

The NDP has la­belled Ken­ney’s stance a cyn­i­cal, cruel Tro­jan horse — ad­vo­cat­ing for the al­liances while promis­ing changes that would, in ef­fect, scare away stu­dents from join­ing them.

Ken­ney said the bill di­verts at­ten­tion from other is­sues such as the bud­get deficit and mount­ing pub­lic debt.

Ear­lier this week, he said teach­ers are in the best po­si­tion to de­cide whether to no­tify par­ents if a child joins an al­liance.

The Al­berta Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion sup­ports the bill. It ar­gues that hav­ing a stu­dent — not teach­ers — in­form par­ents of par­tic­i­pa­tion in a gay-straight al­liance is the best way to en­sure safety and pri­vacy.

The NDP say the United Con­ser­va­tives want to out stu­dents, but El­lis told the leg­is­la­ture the party be­lieves parental no­ti­fi­ca­tion is not manda­tory so they are not ad­vo­cat­ing out­ing stu­dents.

On Wed­nes­day, Not­ley la­belled that rea­son­ing “fun­da­men­tally dis­hon­est’’ and “Or­wellian dou­ble­s­peak.’’

“If you’re go­ing to vote against this bill, own why it is you are vot­ing against this bill — you be­lieve that adults should have the right to out gay kids against their will,’’ said Not­ley.

“You know as well as I do that only one per­son and one per­son only has the right to out a gay kid.

“And that, of course, is the kid.’’

Kevin Tuong/for meTro

ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter David eggen hold­ing the newly pro­posed Bill 24. eggen has de­fended gay-straight al­liances as peer sup­port groups.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.