Critics questioning Alberta Party leader’s meeting with controversial group opposed to gay-straight alliances
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel, a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community, has come under fire for meeting with an organization that advocates say is anything but.
On Tuesday, the non-profit organization Progress Alberta flagged a newsletter put out by Parents for Choice in Education (PCE), which said the group’s communications adviser, Theresa Ng, had met with Mandel.
“Why is Stephen Mandel quietly meeting with Parents for Choice in Education — the largest and most organized anti-GSA and anti-LGBTQ2 group in Alberta?” someone on the organization’s Twitter account asked.
GSAs, or gay-straight alliances, are student groups at schools that provide safe Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel is in hot water with LGBTQ advocates. spaces for straight allies and LGBTQ students.
During an interview with StarMetro, Mandel said his role as a politician means he meets with everyone — even if he doesn’t agree with them.
“Meetings are to learn, and so we hope that they would learn from us about our position on these issues and we think that they need to rethink their position.”
Mandel said at the meeting that he presented PCE with his reasoning around the importance of GSAs.
“Because they protect children and that schools should not be obligated to tell parents who or who is not a member of a GSA, because that’s threatening children,” he said.
“This is important stuff that people need to understand and maybe they don’t understand it, so we try to get our position across.”
Mandel has a long track record of being an ally to the LGBTQ community.
As mayor of Edmonton in 2005, he started the first Mayor Pride Brunch. He was also the first mayor to march in the city’s Pride Parade, in 2006. There’s a graduate scholarship at the University of Alberta for students in sexual and gender minority studies named after him. Mandel’s meeting raised eyebrows. Learn more at thestar.com/edmonton