Dignity and Respect for All Albertans
Posted on September 18, 2014 by Greg Clark
On Tuesday, Premier Jim Prentice and the newly appointed (but still unelected) Education Minister Gordon Dirks responded to the controversy surrounding Mr. Dirks’ record on LGBTQ rights by holding an impromptu meeting with advocate Dr. Kris Wells. We welcome this gesture and are hopeful that this is a good start towards ensuring all Albertans are treated with dignity and respect.
I was also glad to hear Mr. Dirks echo my statements that day, that there is no room for intolerance in Alberta’s schools. There have been decades of PC government inaction on the human rights file. In the 1990s, the Supreme Court of Canada had to force the PC government to legally prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The PC government has not kept pace with Albertans. It’s time for real change.
We Can Do Better For Alberta.
The Alberta Party will take action in three areas:
1) Repeal Section 11.1 of the the Alberta Human Rights Act (Bill 44)
I will fight to immediately repeal Section 11.1 of the Alberta Human Rights Act to remove the penalties faced by teachers if parents are not notified when any aspect of sexual orientation, human sexuality, religion etc. is to be discussed in the classroom. This provision, which is unique to Alberta, was put into place only five years ago by the PC government in order to appease people with homophobic views who may have objected to other aspects of the bill. This was done over the objections of most teachers, many parents, students and a long list of education advocacy organizations. The bill divides students, creates a hostile environment for LGBTQ students and teachers, and promotes intolerance. In Alberta, in 2014, this is unacceptable.
2) Pass Motion 503 to require school boards to allow and provide support for gay-straight alliances (GSAs)
While there are many Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) in Alberta it is still possible (and not uncommon) for schools or school boards to refuse to allow students to create a GSA. There is ample research that demonstrates the many positive benefits of GSAs. A recent study points to lower suicide rates across the entire student population when both anti-homphobia policies and GSAs exist in a school.
3) Fight for inclusive, comprehensive, unbiased and fact-based sexual health education
Although sexual orientation is not about sex, true comprehensive sexual health education is an important aspect of creating a respectful environment for LGBTQ students. In fact, all students benefit from this approach.
Mr. Dirks can back up his words by taking action now.
I call on Gordon Dirks to repeal Section 11.1, support Motion 503 and commit to comprehensive sexual health education in Alberta schools.