News / Edmonton

EPSB demands stand from provincial association on GSAs, gender identity

The issue continues to attract controversy as NDP, UCP clash on Bill 24

Edmonton Public School Board trustee Michael Janz.

File photo

Edmonton Public School Board trustee Michael Janz.

The Edmonton Public School Board is urging the Alberta School Boards Association to make a clear stand on Gay-Straight Alliances and gender identity in schools, as the issue has become a “political football” in Alberta.

EPSB Trustee Michael Janz said it’s about time the association clarifies its position on the confidentiality of sexual and gender minority students so that kids feel safe.

“We heard from students when they open up the news and see politicians debating whether they should be outed when they join a Gay-Straight Alliance … their sexual orientation or gender identity is becoming a political football,” he said.

“The provincial organization we’re all paying for has been silent. And that’s a problem,” he added.

In recent months, GSAs have been a lightning rod for controversy. Last week, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney said teachers should have the final say on whether parents are told if their child joins a Gay-Straight Alliance.

Earlier this month, Alberta Education Minister David Eggen introduced Bill 24, which would require a student’s permission for their parents to be informed. Kenney said his party would oppose the bill.

The Alberta Teachers Association, Calgary Public Teachers, and the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta have publicly expressed their support for Bill 24.

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association has said while they support “Inclusion Clubs’ in Catholic schools, they are concerned Bill 24 would erode local school board autonomy and the relationship between parents and schools.

EPSB will put forward a motion asking the ASBA for a clear stance at their Nov. 20 meeting. The ASBA did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

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