Alberta passes gay-straight alliance bill but B.C. won't follow
Alberta's controversial Bill 10 passed third reading in the province's legislature on March 10, allowing gay-straight alliances to be created at any Albertan schools that students request them at. Students will also be allowed to name them whatever they want.
In addition, the legislation also adds sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex to the Alberta Bill of Rights.
Once it receives royal assent, it will become effective as of June 1.
On March 12, Minister Gordon Dirks stated that there is no requirement for schools to inform or receive consent from parents for a student to participate in a GSA.
However, the Council of Catholic School Superintendents released the "Life Framework" document which states that parental consent may be required in some circumstances, particularly when a student wishes to join a group that focuses on sexuality or sexual orientation.
The document refers to the section of the Alberta Human Rights Act, which was repealed by Bill 10 due to concerns that schools would discourage students from joining GSAs by informing parents or outing a student to a parent.
Meanwhile, B.C. Premier Christy Clark told CKNW that B.C. will not be pursuing similar legislation as Alberta's Bill 10.
“We’re trying to find that balance that way here in British Columbia and I would argue we lead the world in that in looking to create safe schools where there’s a real climate of inclusion for all kids,” she told the radio station on March 11.
She stated that B.C.'s antibullying program already prohibits bullying based on sexual identity.
However, MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert wants B.C. to follow Alberta's example.
“We know that gay-straight alliances reduce the number of suicides and help kids get through school and be happy, healthy people," he told CKNW. "Alberta taking a step will help their students. BC’s refusal to take leadership has hurt our students."
In 2013, Manitoba passed an antibullying bill that requires schools to accommodate GSAs if students requested them.
University of British Columbia studies have found that schools with antihomophobia policies or gay-straight alliances have reduced levels of suicide, discrimination, and risky substance abuse.
Mar 16, 2015 at 8:04pm
People are people regardless of their sexual, religious beliefs, or the colour of their skin.
Mar 19, 2015 at 3:39pm
Treating different people as if they were the same is not equality. Equality is about acknowleging and accepting others inherent differences and not discriminating against them for it.
GSAs promote real equality and we should be embracing and encouraging them in BC.