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Questions surface over impact of UCP education platform on GSAs
Published Tuesday, March 26, 2019 1:20PM MDT Last Updated Tuesday, March 26, 2019 6:38PM MDT
UCP Leader Jason Kenney oulined his election campaign on Monday and the party’s education platform is drawing criticism from opponents over the potential impact on gay-straight alliances in schools.
Kenney says his government would proclaim the former Progressive Conservative government's Education Act of 2014 to replace the NDP's amended School Act.
"We want safe schools we want peer support for kids who need it but I think we can do that by respecting the religious freedom of independent schools,” said Kenney.
At the time, the New Democrats said there were some loopholes in the Tory legislation that some schools were using to delay or deny students who were trying to set up the clubs and that's why the NDP amended the School Act to take protections for LGBTQ students further.
Kenney says he wants a less contentious relationship with religious schools and that if there is any pushback regarding GSAs, his approach would be one of cooperation and not confrontation.
The issue is not new and was front and center during the last provincial election.
Currently, any student in Alberta has the right to start a gay-straight alliance at their school, without having to tell their parents or school officials.
Under a UCP government that could change and that isn't sitting well with some members of the LGBTQ community.
Some have taken to social media to voice their opposition and many critics are also questioning Kenney's motive, saying reopening the debate speaks to a bigger issue.
“It’s 2019, LGBTQ issues shouldn't be the issues we're talking about in Alberta’s election. These kind of issues broke apart the Wildrose Party, they brought down a conservative dynasty yet Jason Kenney seems to be doubling down on this form of discrimination and hate,” said Dr. Kristopher Wells, MacEwan University Faculty of Health & Community.
GSAs have been a point of contention for some faith-based schools and parents who claim it violates their charter rights to protect and support their children.
(With files from Teri Fikowski and The Canadian Press)