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Not Far Enough

December 2, 2014

Yesterday, the Alberta government defeated a an opposition member’s bill put forward by the Alberta Liberals regarding gay/straight alliances in Alberta Schools. Instead, they put forward their own private member’s bill on the same topic. Their bill enables schools to say no to students wishing to establish a gay/straight alliance within a school. Students still have the ability to create a GSA but must appeal to the school board or the Court of Queen’s Bench.

I for one do not believe the provincial government went far enough. I would like to see them make some amendments to their bill. First of all, clubs established to benefit immigrant students should fall under this bill. Schools should not be forced to create spaces for these students to gather and gain support from their peers. This would be unfair to all nonimmigrant students. Along the same vein, any group which provides supports to English Language Learners should also be considered. Again, forcing schools to create student groups which support ELL students is unfair to all the English speaking students in a school.

Second, all religious support groups should fall under this bill. Schools in Alberta should not be forced to establish any group or club which supports any religion. The obvious argument here is that a student support group for Jewish students is unfair to all non-Jewish students. Clearly, schools cannot support these types of clubs or groups as they create inequity.

I would also like to see the provincial government include human rights clubs within this bill. It would be unfair for schools to be forced to create clubs which promote human rights or social justice as they may have students or parents who support dictatorial regimes and the removal of rights and freedoms. It would not be appropriate to marginalize these students.

Finally, I would like to see chess clubs fall under the proposed private member’s bill. Having these types of clubs only benefits those students interested in chess. I for one would not want to see that happen in Alberta schools.

The Real Story

I often try to keep politics out of my writing. But, today, I couldn’t. The government of our province is taking an immense step backward in terms of equality for all students, not just LGBTQ students. This is not an issue of curriculum. This is an issue of student rights and safety. Through this proposed bill, the government is telling LGBTQ students they are not worthy of support. This issue may make some folks uncomfortable – so did the racial integration of schools. All of our students regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation deserve respect, support, equality and a safe place to learn. If the government needs a refresher on this one, I suggest they refer to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I sincerely hope the government has the courage to review their actions and take a step forward in the best interests of our youth.

Have a nice day and thank you for reading,

Sean

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