Out­ing LGBTQ stu­dents by teach­ers out­lawed in Al­berta

The Amherst News - - COMMUNITY -

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: lgbt­con­nec­tion­sgv@gmail.com..

Ger­ard Veld­hoven

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