Outing LGBTQ students by teachers outlawed in Alberta
Rachel Notley’s Alberta’s government has accomplished a task that will further provide protection for LGBTQ students in that province. A great number of schools in Canada have Gay/Straight Alliance groups, which make it possible for LGBTQ and straight students to come together, discuss issues pertaining to their well-being, and generally support each other. Many school officials feel they have a duty to tell parents when a student joins such a group. Alberta passed Bill 24 on Nov. 16, which states that a student’s privacy must be protected. Reaction was immediate, especially from the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association. They raised the following concern citing that this new law will diminish the role of school boards and superintendents, and feel it is the responsibility of a school principal to inform parents if a child joins a GSA group within the school. They also feel the new law will affect the relationship between the school and the parents. In an effort to protect the religious influence on the subject of LGBTQ issues and not respect the very existence of laws to protect sexual orientation and true gender identity, the ACSTA made the following statement. “A blanket refusal to communicate information to parents without some assessment of the child’s best interest in a particular circumstance should be avoided.” In other words, this may lead to a child’s rejection by parents and may consequently be the cause of losing that family, or as research shows, a cause of suicides, a phenomenon completely ignored by the ACSTA, although studies have revealed this occurs on many occasions. The importance of the passing of Bill 24 cannot be overstated, and kudos to the Albertan Government for having the insight to recognize the respect LGBTQ youngsters are entitled to, in this ever discriminating world society. The United Conservative Party in Alberta under leader Jason Kenney, a well-know opponent of equality for all, had already warned that his party would vote against Bill 24. Education Minister, David Eggen said, “Our government has made it very clear that no child will be outed. We just want students to come out to their family and friends when they are ready, and we recognize that GSAs and QSAs help in this very important process.” The time is here when all organizations, governments, education systems, medical care givers, individuals and world religions join forces and rid us of this curse that we know as discrimination against human society. Is that a realistic expectation? Most of us wish the very best for our children, grandchildren and future generations. We look for a future where religious based thinking may find that there is a joy in accepting those who are not exactly on the same page, but nevertheless, positively contribute to society at large, and to put an end to this discriminating, hateful rhetoric. Daily stories contain antiLGBTQ thinking and it mainly originates from the religious community, it is hurtful, dangerous and infiltrates the minds of many, and in so doing keep the fires of intolerance burning brightly. Our young people are concerned about identifying themselves as members of the LGBTQ community, but are at the mercy of adults who are determined to order their offspring the person they must love, and the road they should follow. Let our children be true to themselves, and welcome their true identity. I praise the Alberta Government and may other provinces who shortly follow. Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in the Amherst News. Comments and information: email@example.com..