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New legislation to support gay-straight alliances

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Minister Eggen and colleagues meet with supporters of new legislation.

Minister Eggen and colleagues meet with supporters of new legislation.

A proposed bill would make life better for students by ensuring they can form gay-straight alliances at school without fear of being outed.

An Act to Protect Gay Straight Alliances would support students who wish to create or join gay-straight and queer-straight alliances (GSAs and QSAs) by ensuring that every publicly funded school in Alberta has a clear policy allowing them. Every student in Alberta deserves a school that is a welcoming, caring and safe place to learn.

“Our top priority is for all schools across Alberta to be safe and welcoming for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Our government’s legislation would ensure just that. These amendments are intended to provide clarity and consistency to support students, families and school authorities.” David Eggen, Minister of Education

Proposed amendments to the School Act would:

  • Require all publicly funded schools to create welcoming, caring and respectful policies and make them publicly available.
  • Strengthen the minister’s ability to ensure every school complies with the law.
  • Protect the privacy of students that join a GSA or QSA.
  • Protect the establishment of GSAs from political interference.
  • Ensure principals help students create a GSA or QSA in a timely manner.

"To me, the existence of a GSA at school means that I am safe. It means that I am accepted and that I am not alone. I am so grateful that this government is making changes to ensure that these spaces remain safe for all students." Ace Peace, Grade 12 student

"As the parent of a trans child, I believe that GSAs are essential in creating safe learning environments for all students. I believe they are incredibly important to the well-being of LBGTQ2+ students, but perhaps equally important in that they provide spaces for allies to demonstrate their support and desire to be a part of creating positive change." Lindsay Peace, parent

“It is reassuring to see a minister of education take this responsible stand in supporting safe schools for all of Alberta’s students. Extensive research confirms the many beneficial effects of having a GSA in schools, not just for marginalized students, but for everyone in those schools. When students feel safe, they can achieve their fullest potential both academically and personally.” Darren Lund, professor, University of Calgary, and former high school teacher

If passed, the amendments would come into force by April 1, 2018. School authorities will have until June 30, 2018 to make their safe and caring policies publicly available.

Quick facts

  • These proposed amendments are intended to clarify and expand on amendments made to the School Act in 2015.
  • At that time, three new sections were added to the School Act to include:
    • Responsibilities for students, parents and school authorities as they relate to welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments.
    • A requirement for school authorities to support students in creating and naming student organizations, including GSAs and QSAs.
    • A requirement for school authorities to address bullying by creating and implementing a policy that includes a student code of conduct.

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