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WIN! Alberta government changes position on gay-straight alliance clubs

GSA Edmonton

Gallaway (on right in the photo) at a protest supporting gay-straight alliance clubs at the Alberta legislature, December 2014.

In December 2014, the Council of Canadians joined a protest against the Alberta government’s proposed Bill 10.

That bill killed Bill 202, a private member’s bill that would have made gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs mandatory in schools where students wanted them. In its place, Bill 10 initially only gave students the option of appealing to the court if their school refused them permission to form a GSA club. Public opposition prompted an inadequate amendment to that bill that would have meant students could instead appeal to the provincial minister of education rather than going to court.

The Globe and Mail now reports, “After fighting gay-straight alliances in schools for a year, Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government has changed its mind. Education Minister Gordon Dirks has told the house that the government will bring in an amendment to a bill that would allow the support groups in every school if students wanted them.” CBC adds, “It will allow students to meet on school property, name the group what they wish (GSA or a QSA, a queer-straight alliance) and also add sexual orientation, sex, gender identity and gender expression in the Alberta Bill of Rights.”

CTV explains, “Gay-straight alliances are after-school clubs made up of gay students and their classmates to help gay students feel welcome and to prevent them from being abused and bullied. According to the Journal of Research on Adolescence, the rate of suicide among gay youth drops significantly when a school has a GSA.”

Our Edmonton-based regional organizer Chris Gallaway has noted, “Up to 40 per cent of homeless teens identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, they are eight times more likely to commit suicide, they often feel like their school is a hostile place, and a rising number of homeless LGBTQ teens in Canada have been cast out by religious families.”

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley commenting on the passing of the amendment to Bill 10 said, “[It’s a] long overdue step in the right direction. It’s important to understand it didn’t come without a fight. The sad truth is the PC’s had to be dragged across the finish line on this one, but that being said they are here now.”

Congratulations to everyone who worked to secure this important amendment.

The legislation comes into effect on June 1.

Further reading
Council of Canadians opposes Bill 10 in Alberta (December 2014 blog)