Edmonton's LGBTQ community wants province to ensure Gay-Straight Alliances in all schools
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Members of Edmonton's LGBTQ community rallied in advance of Wednesday's introduction of Bill 202 to the Alberta Legislature, imploring MLAs to vote in favour of allowing Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in Alberta schools whenever requested.
Mickey Wilson, of the Pride Centre of Edmonton, said studies show that schools that support GSAs have less discrimination and harassment than those without.
“GSAs create a safe space for kids to thrive,” Wilson said. “Those who argue against GSAs say 'we don't have gays in our school'--but they're in every school and every culture in Alberta. The students sometimes choose not to be seen.”
Grade 8 student Caeleah Bartosck said her Edmonton school doesn't have a GSA, but she wants one.
“Kids like me avoid saying they're gay—everyone is trying to be the same and fit in. But a GSA would make kids at my school more willing to be themselves,” she said. “I want to ask the Premier and Education Minister why we don't have the resources we need to succeed?”
LGBTQ supporter and educator Murray Billett said while Liberal and NDP MLAs 'have walked shoulder to shoulder with us, PC members must walk the talk. They attend our Pride Parade but then vote against our motion. The hypocrisy is alarming and unacceptable.”
Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman's private member's Bill will also ask for the removal of 11.1 from the Alberta Human Rights Act, which now prohibits open classroom discussion of sexuality without parental permission.
Motion 503, which asked the Alberta Legislature to support Gay-Straight Alliances in the province's high schools, was defeated in April, 2014 with 38 per cent in favor and 62 per cent against. Some 42 per cent of MLAs didn't attend the vote at all.
Bill 202, the Safe and Inclusive School Act, will be introduced Wednesday in the Alberta Legislature, by Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman. A free vote on the Bill isn't expected until sometime in December.