In the latest political showdown, Premier Rachel Notely and the NDPs seem to have gotten the first strike with the introduction of Bill 24: An Act to Protect Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs). See story on page 1.
The new act would require every publicly funded school in Alberta to have a policy supporting the creation of GSAs.
It would also allow the minister of education to “impose any additional terms or conditions the minister considers appropriate” should a school board refuse to comply with the act.
The biggest weapon in the act’s arsenal, however, is the provision that ensures students are not “outted” by schools if they join a GSA.
That is the first strike against Jason Kenney and the UCPs, as Kenney has said parents should be notified if their child joins a GSA. This new act comes mere days after Kenney was elected UCP leader.
For his part, Kenney said the UCP will oppose Bill 24, not because his party supports “outing” kids but because, “teachers, not politicians, should decide when it makes sense to engage parents.”
This seems to fly in the face of the intention of GSAs as supportive clubs for vulnerable students. The clubs are meant to empower students who are struggling with big issues and allow kids the support they need to tell their parents when they themselves are ready, not when a teacher says they are.
Ultimately, Kenney will lose this particular battle, the NDP majority will pass Bill 24. But it does set a definitive tone for the UCP and may turn some left-leaning conservatives away from the party.