Above: Minister Eggen and colleagues meet with supporters of new legislation. – GOA Photo
by Morinville News Staff
A proposed bill that will ensure students can form gay-straight alliances at school without fear of being outed would make life better for students, the government said Thursday.
An Act to Protect Gay-Straight Alliances would support students wishing to create or join gay-straight and queer-straight alliances (GSAs and QSAs). The Act ensures every publicly-funded school in Alberta has a clear policy to allow GSAs and QSAs.
“Our top priority is for all schools across Alberta to be safe and welcoming for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” said David Eggen, Minister of Education. “Our government’s legislation would ensure just that. These amendments are intended to provide clarity and consistency to support students, families and school authorities.”
Proposed amendments to the School Act would require all publicly-funded schools to create welcoming, caring and respectful policies and make them publicly available, strengthen the minister’s ability to ensure every school complies with the law, and protect the privacy of students that join a GSA or QSA.
Additionally, the amendments protect the establishment of GSAs from political interference, and ensure principals help students create a GSA or QSA in a timely manner.
University of Calgary Professor Darren Lund, a former high school teacher, said it is reassuring to see a minister of education take a responsible stand in supporting safe schools for all of Alberta’s students.
“Extensive research confirms the many beneficial effects of having a GSA in schools, not just for marginalized students, but for everyone in those school,” Lund said. “When students feel safe, they can achieve their fullest potential both academically and personally.”
If passed, the amendments would come into force by April 1, 2018. School authorities would have until June 30, 2018, to make their safe and caring policies publicly available.