News / Calgary

'Unfortunate and archaic': Tegan Quin weighs in on UCP opposition of Bill 24

Tegan and Sara, local indie-pop sensations, have been long-time LGBTQ+ activists

Tegan Quin (L) of Calgary Indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara said the UCP's take on Bill 24 is &quotarchaic."

Pamela Littky / Tegan and Sara

Tegan Quin (L) of Calgary Indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara said the UCP's take on Bill 24 is "archaic."

When Tegan and Sara Quin, of Canadian indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara, was growing up in Calgary there was no such thing as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).

Now, nearly 20 years later, Tegan—who has traveled around the world speaking with LGBTQ and advocating on their behalf— says she can’t believe that GSAs, more specifically Bill 24, is up for debate.

Tegan said having grown up as a queer person in the 90s she knows what it was like to not be considered equal citizens, not have the right to get married, not have legal protections and to not have GSAs.

“I didn’t come out until after high school because I knew that would be extremely detrimental to do that in high school,” she said. “I think it’s extremely important. GSAs and QSAs are places for LGBTQ+ people and allies to meet and have pizza and talk about who they are.”

Earlier this week United Conservative Party (UCP) leader, Jason Kenney, said his caucus was united in their opposition to Bill 24, which would make it illegal to out kids in GSAs.

"Bill 24 would make it illegal to engage parents about certain school activities for children beginning in kindergarten, regardless of their individual circumstances," said Kenney, who proceeded to imply GSAs even had a curriculum—something the government has dispelled.

Tegan said the language being used by Kenney and the UCP is fear-based.

“I think that’s the tool that conservatives and homophobic use all the time,” she said. “It always becomes about sex because sex is in the word sexuality. And I think that’s really unfortunate and its pretty archaic and sad.”

Tegan said what’s missing from UCP rhetoric is the kids.

“I see a lot of language focusing on schools, laws, parents and no focus on the kids,” she said. “What if the parents aren’t loving and accepting about this topic? Or if they know that their parents are homophobic and they’re worried about that?”

Tegan said she’s a proud Albertan who had an amazing experience growing up in Calgary and attending Crescent Heights High School where she had a great group of friends and teachers.

“It just makes me sad to see the UCP trying to roll back on that,” she said. “Have we learned nothing from watching America do this?”

Tegan said she believes this move to oppose Bill 24 could be detrimental for the UCP, pointing to examples of Republicans being beaten out in municipal elections by transgender candidates in two American races this week.

“If the UCP continues this trend I think it’s just going to hurt them. This bill is important,” she said.

Lindsay Peace, whose teen transgender son currently attends Crescent Heights – and is a member of the GSA there—is the founder of LGBTQ+ advocacy group the Skipping Stone Foundation.

On Sunday in partnership with Calgary Pride, Skipping Stone will be hosting a rally at McDougal Centre in support of Bill 24.

“We want to show these kids that there are people who support them and that their safety is not up for a vote,” she said. “We want to show solidarity—we’re standing with you , but we’ll also stand in front of you if we need to.”

The rally will go from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Second reading of Bill 24 passes

On Thursday Bill 24 was read in the legislature for the second time.

Ultimately the motion was passed, with 44 NDP, Liberal and Independent MLAs voting in favour.

Only nine UCP members—one third of it’s sitting MLAS— were at the legislature at the time of the reading—all of whom voted against the motion.

“UCP members were busy attending to other things and other duties and of course we can’t all be in the house at the same time, but the UCP caucus is united over their concerns of Bill 24,” said UCP spokeswoman, Annie Dormuth.

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