Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'No Student Will Be Outed:' Alberta Proposes New Rules on Gay-Straight Groups

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'No Student Will Be Outed:' Alberta Proposes New Rules on Gay-Straight Groups

Article excerpt

Alberta proposes new rules on gay-straight groups


EDMONTON - Alberta is proposing new legislation to ensure students who join gay-straight alliances in school are not outed without their permission.

Education Minister David Eggen says the new law will also mandate that all schools that get public dollars take more specific steps to embrace and create gay-straight alliances if students ask for them.

"No student will be outed if they choose to join a GSA," Eggen told the house Thursday as he introduced the bill.

"We are continuing to ensure that all students feel welcome at school regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."

Gay-straight alliances are social clubs set up by students to help LGBTQ children feel welcome and to lessen any chance of bullying.

They have long been a controversial issue in Alberta, given their location at the intersection of education, religion, students' rights, parents' rights and human rights.

Students already have the right to set up an alliance in their school if they want one, but the government says updated rules are needed to clarify language, mandate action, and close loopholes.

Eggen said the proposed legislation makes clear that parents are not to be notified when a child joins a GSA.

"We know that Alberta parents love and support their children and that they play a critical role in their children's lives and education," said Eggen.

"But we also know students sometimes feel safer and more comfortable talking about these issues with their peers."

He has said the GSA clause is a direct response to Opposition United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney's comments that parents should be told when their child joins a gay-straight alliance unless there is concern that the disclosure would result in the child coming to harm.

Advocates of gay-straight alliances say the final decision must always rest with the child because there is no way to be sure whether outing a child to their parents will lead to family ostracism or physical harm.

They say students won't join a GSA under such a policy and that the clubs will then wither and die. …

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