Manitoba passes antibullying bill supporting gay-straight alliances
The Manitoban government has passed a controversial antibullying bill that will require schools in the province to accommodate gay-straight alliances.
Bill 18, the public schools amendment act, passed third reading 36-16 on September 13.
Over 300 Manitobans spoke at public hearings held for the bill. Religious leaders and community members had expressed concerns that the bill would violate religious freedom at faith-based schools by forcing them to accept GSAs against their own beliefs.
Students who want to start antibullying clubs, including GSAs, will now have to be accommodated by schools.
The province partnered with Egale Canada Human Rights Trust in May to develop resources that will help schools create GSAs.
A similar hotly contested antibullying bill in Ontario, Bill 13, passed third reading on June 5. The bill aroused opposition from the Roman Catholic church.
In August, a UBC study found that students at schools with GSAs or antihomophobia measures reported lower rates of binge drinking and problems related to alcohol.
The study was designed to examine what effect GSAs had on a social environment. The researchers found that GSAs and antihomophobia measures helped to decrease bullying-related stress for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, thereby lowering negative health-related outcomes.