After a passionate debate full of personal stories, and opposition, the proposed amendments to Bill 24 have been passed in the Alberta Legislature. The amendments are aimed at further supporting LGBTQ2S+ students who participate in Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).
“Coming out is not an easy experience for many. Most of us struggle for many years … you might be familiar with the online campaign It Gets Better, with videos from members of the LGBTQ community telling teens who are in school who are suffering not to lose hope because things get better … why should you have to wait until you leave school for things to get better? Why do you have to struggle in silence? Quite frankly, there is no need for that.” – Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism
The debates raged on as a fury of political posturing occurred outside of the house. The NDP labelled the opposition leader (UCP) Jason Kenney, as a “cruel Trojan horse”, while the UCP threw claims that this bill was the NDP’s way of distracting from “real problems”. Kenney announced his party does not support the new changes to Bill 24. The UCP included amendments to address their concerns that GSAs will teach sexual education outside of the set curriculum, consented to by parents. They also sought to exclude elementary schools from the GSAs requirement, both amendments were rejected by the government. 
Premier Rachel Notley, along with multiple other party NDP members, spoke about the issue many including personal stories of family members and friends.
“No young person should ever end their coming out experience with the phrase: don’t tell anyone; they will kill me.” – Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks speaking of her friend who came out as gay 25 years ago.
The new amendments make it illegal for school board employees to inform parents of their children’s involvement in a GSA without permission from the student, or in special circumstances of direct threat of harm. The bill now also closes “loop-holes” which were being used as a delay for schools to implement GSAs.
Bill 24 passed 42-23.
For more background on Bill 24, see our earlier post: http://rightswatch.ca/2017/10/19/alberta-minister-proposes-a-strengthening-of-lgbtq-support-in-schools/
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.
 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/gsa-debate-alberta-mother-coming-out-1.4399134, http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/impassioned-debate-over-bill-on-gay-straight-alliances-continues-in-alberta-legislature, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/ucp-oppose-gsa-bill-ban-parental-notification-1.4391317