NDP moves to strengthen gay-straight alliances

Changes applauded by teachers’ association

Alberta’s NDP government is taking steps to ensure all publicly funded schools have a well-defined policy around protecting gay-straight and queer-straight alliances.

The province made the announcement on Nov. 2 as a means to ensure all students attending school have a welcoming and safe place to go to. The proposed changes would require all publically funded schools to create a policy that was accessible to the public, strengthen the ministry’s ability to ensure all schools comply with the changes, protect student’s privacy when they do join gay-straight or queer-straight alliances, protect them from political interference and ensure principals help in creating alliances in a timely manner.

If the proposal goes through, which is likely given that the NDP holds a majority, the changes would come into effect April 1 next year. Schools will have until June 30 to make their new policies public.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association welcomed the announcement. In a news release, the association’s president Greg Jeffery said GSA’s are about ensuring students feel safe and welcomed at school regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

“Students and teachers will benefit from legal clarity,” Jeffery said in the release. “The issue of GSA attendance and student privacy has become unfortunately politicized and unnecessarily divisive. If this bill is passed, teachers will no longer have to worry about managing competing pressures on such a sensitive topic.”

He added that he would like all parties to support the changes.

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