Bill 24 of­fers illusion of free­dom

GUEST COL­UMN

Lethbridge Herald - - READER’S FORUM - John Sikkema AS­SO­CI­A­TION FOR RE­FORMED PO­LIT­I­CAL AC­TION

Bill 24, which passed into law on Nov. 15, makes chil­dren kings and queens. Schools are their cas­tles, safe spa­ces from parental author­ity, and school staff their ser­vants and ad­vis­ers.

Bill 24 de­mands school prin­ci­pals “im­me­di­ately grant per­mis­sion” for any “vol­un­tary stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion” (i.e. club) or any “ac­tiv­ity” (i.e. pre­sen­ta­tions, plays, pride days, so­cial events, etc.) that is “in­tended to pro­mote a wel­com­ing, car­ing, re­spect­ful and safe learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment that re­spects di­ver­sity and fos­ters a sense of be­long­ing.”

The bill also re­quires prin­ci­pals to des­ig­nate a staff mem­ber to “fa­cil­i­tate the es­tab­lish­ment” of the club or to “as­sist in the or­ga­niz­ing of” the ac­tiv­ity. If no staff mem­ber is avail­able, the prin­ci­pal must find some other “re­spon­si­ble adult” to do it — no qual­i­fi­ca­tions for said “adult” are spec­i­fied. This is just one of the ways this bill is con­vo­luted.

Bill 24 is called “An Act to Pro­tect GayS­traight Al­liances.” But with all the talk of GSAs, it’s easy to overlook the sheer breadth of the bill’s re­quire­ment for im­me­di­ate ap­proval of any­thing in­tended to pro­mote a wel­com­ing school en­vi­ron­ment. In­tended by whom? The stu­dent(s) re­quest­ing it. But the law places the bur­den of com­pli­ance on prin­ci­pals, mean­ing prin­ci­pals must be­come judges of whether a stu­dent’s in­ten­tions for a re­quested club or ac­tiv­ity are right and good ac­cord­ing to Bill 24.

Will a re­quest for an ex­tracur­ric­u­lar pre­sen­ta­tion on na­tive spir­i­tu­al­ity and a re­quest for a pre­sen­ta­tion on Catholic the­ol­ogy of the body both be im­me­di­ately ap­proved by a pub­lic school prin­ci­pal? If the stu­dent in both cases in­tends to use the ac­tiv­ity to fos­ter un­der­stand­ing of and re­spect to­wards those who hold such be­liefs, the an­swer should be yes. Or how about a club in­tended to over­come car­i­ca­tures of peo­ple who hold pro-life be­liefs and fa­cil­i­tate di­a­logue be­tween pro-life and pro-choice stu­dents? Or a club invit­ing fel­low stu­dents to dis­cuss a Chris­tian un­der­stand­ing of sex­ual ethics? If all such should be ap­proved if well in­ten­tioned, then this bill may turn out to be a boon for di­a­logue about dif­fi­cult philo­soph­i­cal, reli­gious, eth­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal is­sues. But I doubt that is what this gov­ern­ment in­tends.

Bill 24 starts broad, but then fo­cuses in on just one thing: GSAs. It men­tions no other clubs or types of clubs. While ad­vo­cates of Bill 24 like to say it is just about pro­tect­ing stu­dent-cre­ated safe spa­ces for stu­dents of any gen­der iden­tity or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion to so­cial­ize, the re­al­ity is that GSAs form part of a far-flung ac­tivist net­work: for Al­berta, see Hence the sin­gling out of this par­tic­u­lar club name for spe­cial men­tion and pro­tec­tion. The Al­berta GSA Net­work, its web­site and re­sources and ally or­ga­ni­za­tions, are not cre­ated by stu­dents. Sure, gath­er­ing for pizza and games and con­ver­sa­tion may be most of what any given GSA does. Ob­vi­ously, that is not what par­ents are con­cerned about. And frankly, as a talk­ing point, the pizza-and-fun bit gets a bit in­sult­ing af­ter a while.

What has par­ents con­cerned? Bill 24 pro­hibits telling par­ents or any­one else (even board mem­bers) any­thing about these clubs or ac­tiv­i­ties be­yond the fact of the es­tab­lish­ment of the club or the hold­ing of the ac­tiv­ity. “Stu­den­tini­ti­ated” clubs or ac­tiv­i­ties are also ex­empted by Bill 24 from the School Act’s re­quire­ment to no­tify par­ents when “sub­ject mat­ter deals pri­mar­ily or ex­plic­itly with re­li­gion or hu­man sex­u­al­ity.” As the Op­po­si­tion rightly pointed out, if such sub­ject mat­ter never comes up through stu­dent clubs and ac­tiv­i­ties, there would be no rea­son to shield them from the re­quire­ment to no­tify par­ents.

It is a rec­og­nized prin­ci­ple of in­ter­na­tional law — and the law of Canada and Al­berta — that par­ents have

Al­ber­taGSANet­work.ca.

the right to di­rect the reli­gious and moral ed­u­ca­tion of their chil­dren. Not the state. To­tal­i­tar­ian states claim that author­ity and try to take over that role. What Al­berta’s gov­ern­ment has done, clev­erly, is cre­ate a sup­pos­edly stu­dent­con­trolled con­duit for the ide­ol­ogy of the new sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion, shielded from parental over­sight. But stu­dents do not de­velop views on hu­man sex­u­al­ity, gen­der and sex­ual ethics in a vac­uum. The idea here is plainly that stu­dents be en­cour­aged to adopt the ide­o­log­i­cal frame­work of the Al­berta GSA Net­work and sim­i­lar or­ga­ni­za­tions. Millions of Cana­di­ans re­ject such a frame­work.

Bill 24 is sup­pos­edly about keep­ing stu­dents safe within school walls from par­ents with “tra­di­tional” views about sex­u­al­ity, gen­der and sex­ual ethics — back­wards, dan­ger­ous views, we are sup­posed to be­lieve. The bill gives stu­dents the illusion of free­dom in ex­plor­ing their sex­ual iden­ti­ties, free­dom from parental su­per­vi­sion, guid­ance and author­ity. But de­ter­min­ing one’s iden­tity free of any moral or philo­soph­i­cal frame­work is im­pos­si­ble. Ev­ery one of us eval­u­ates our feel­ings and thoughts through a be­lief sys­tem.

So while par­ents are shut out be­hind gates marked “Bill 24,” inside cas­tle walls, se­lect school staff and third par­ties of­fer “re­sources” and “sup­port” to stu­dents in line with pro­gres­sive sex­ual ide­ol­ogy. That ide­ol­ogy tells chil­dren to em­brace various sex­ual predilec­tions or in­ner fan­tasies as good and iden­tity-defin­ing. It is de­signed to re­place other be­liefs, such as that sex has a pur­pose and proper con­text within mar­riage, or that gen­der is es­sen­tially bi­nary. They eman­ci­pate chil­dren from their par­ents’ be­liefs, but in­evitably in­cul­cate them with their own. Mean­while, they flat­ter stu­dents that they alone de­ter­mine their iden­tity and how it should be ex­pressed. Par­ents, I hope, know bet­ter. John Sikkema serves as Le­gal Coun­sel for the As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­formed Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion, based in Ot­tawa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.