Riding supports UCP stance on gay-straight alliance bill: Stettler MLA

Political parties are butting heads over proposed changes

By Jeff Labine The Stettler Independent

Stettler’s MLA says many residents are standing behind the United Conservative Party as they fight against a proposed government bill intended to strengthen support for gay-straight alliances.

The NDP and the newly formed UCP have been butting heads over Bill 24, an Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances. The government says the proposed bill will make it so school officials can’t inform parents when a student joins the alliance. The UCP has come out against the bill arguing it undermined parents’ rights.

Gay-straight alliances are intended to be a safe place where students can discuss LGBTQ issues and as Premier Rachel Notley pointed out, is not a place where sex-ed is taught.

UCP MLA for Drumheller-Stettler Rick Strankman said his constituents office has received a lot of feedback on this issue with many supporting his party’s stance against the proposed bill.

“This is probably one of the most significant responses we’ve got in our constituency inbox in support of the position (UCP leader) Jason Kenney has taken,” he said. “The responses we have gotten say they believe the parents should have primary parent control and custody of their children. That appears to be the general gist of what, in a simplistic manner, what the responses are that we are getting from the constituents.”

Strankman said he wasn’t surprised by the response given his riding has strong roots in conservative values around parenting.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association has come out in support of the bill. 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.

Strankman said he respects that teachers are going to have an opinion on this.

“The people I am talking to at the school boards are saying that they want to do the very best they can for the kids,” he said. “Anyway to better the education of our children should be endorsed. But when it comes to a sensitive issue or a flashpoint or a guardianship issue, then it becomes a hot topic of discussion.”

Bill 24 is currently being discussed at the committee level and has to go through a third reading before coming into law.

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