Protection Through Solidarity

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

The Alberta school educational system will be providing protections for the traditionally vulnerable sexual minority, gay, students with new legislation aimed at Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).

The GSAs have been integral for the protection of these students who are either gay and in-the-closet, or not and simply want a place to mingle without discrimination, or who are not and who remain allies to the sexual minority community.

In any of these students who would see themselves as such, GSAs can be and are for many important places for community, similar to sports teams and chess clubs are for others.

Imagine if you had something that you were being discriminated against on and then this became a basis for wanting a social group for a small community to, at times, protect yourselves in some way, the GSAs perform this function and to be forced to be outed as gay or an ally would go against one, not the only but one, of the purposes of the alliances public educational facilities.

There have been calls in Alberta to make outing gay students a norm as if it has to be done, but it doesn’t have to be nor, personally, should it be. The Herald News talked about the recent events with Eggen and Kenney:

Alberta’s education minister says he will be introduce legislation to make it illegal to out students who join gay-straight alliances.

On Twitter, David Eggen says the government believes all students deserve to feel safe and welcome at all schools.

He says no student who belongs to a gay-straight alliance — intended to foster understanding and give LGBTQ students a haven from bullying — should be outed.

His comments come as the issue creates a rift among leadership candidates for the new United Conservative Party.

Former federal cabinet minister and leadership candidate Jason Kenney has said schools should tell parents in some circumstances when their child joins an alliance. (The Canadian Press, 2017)

This is the rift topic: GSAs. I feel a little surprised, but not too much, to be typing that first portion of this sentence and to read that in the Herald News, but there you go. The Edmonton Journal commented on the situation, too (French, 2017a).

Eggen’s proposal is a new bill with requirements for all Alberta schools receiving public money to “establish an anti-bullying code of conduct that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation and other grounds in the Alberta Human Rights Act.”

One issue is the “legal loophole” that would permit private schools exemption from the bill (French, 2017b). Nonetheless, if approved, the bill would protect LGBTQ+ students and allow them to create GSAs. Not bad, what can we do? Show solidarity through protections, wouldn’t want the same if heterosexuality, in a hypothetical universe, was the minority and often bullied? I stand with Norway’s statement in December of 2006, the UNHCR’s statement in 2011, and the Government of Canada’s position in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in section 15, and on and on (Strommen, 2006; UNHCR, 2011; Government of Canada, 1982).

References

French, J. (2017b, March 23). Education Minister David Eggen issues order for Christian schools to accommodate LGBTQ students. Retrieved from http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/education-minister-issues-order-for-christian-schools-to-accommodate-lqbtq-students.

French, J. (2017a, September 28). Education minister vows to tighten privacy rules around gay-straight alliances in schools. Retrieved from http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/education-minister-vows-to-tighten-privacy-rules-around-gay-straight-alliances-in-schools.

Government of Canada. (1982). Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Retrieved from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html.

Strommen, H.E.W.C. (2006, December 1). 2006 Joint Statement: 3rd Session of the Human Rights Council Joint Statement. Retrieved from http://arc-international.net/global-advocacy/sogi-statements/2006-joint-statement/.

The Canadian Press. (2017, September 28). Alberta to bring in legislation to protect students who join gay-straight clubs. Retrieved from http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1507250-alberta-to-bring-in-legislation-to-protect-students-who-join-gay-straight-clubs.

UNHCR. (2011, November 17). Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Retrieved from http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Discrimination/A.HRC.19.41_English.pdf.

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