Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in response to the Ministerial Order directing two schools to allow gay-straight alliances (GSAs):
“I thank the Minister of Education for his decision to enforce the law permitting gay-straight alliances to be established in all schools where students request them.
“However, I admonish him for not having taken a firmer stance from the beginning on this matter. By allowing a situation of open defiance to continue for as long as it had, he empowered a willful act of discrimination. This is something that he should not and must not permit.
“The incident further highlights the fact that many school board LGBTQ policies simply do not make the grade – the Minister even called them ‘clunky’. In some cases, students are even discouraged from using the terms LGBTQ or GSA. This goes against both the spirit and the letter of the law.
“One way to ensure transparency and accountability in this matter is to require all school boards, including private schools, to make their GSA policies publicly accessible. That way, parents, students, and the community can review them.
“The investigation that led to the Ministerial Order also raised concerns about a school’s ability to “out” LGBTQ students by notifying parents if students attend GSAs. If true, this is deeply troubling.
“Therefore, I call on the Minister to do everything in his power to protect these vulnerable students, and ensure their privacy and confidentiality is explicitly safeguarded.
“Finally, let us not forget that GSAs save lives. While students have the legal right to form GSAs, more needs to be done to remove all barriers to establishing these safe and inclusive student-led initiatives.”
Video of David Swann questioning Minister Eggen on Gay-Straight Alliances on March 14th can be found here.