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GALAP pledges to protect youth as potential education act changes loom

A spokesperson for the Gay & Lesbian Association Of The Peace is disappointed with Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange for what she believes is the minister’s flippant disregard for the LGBTQ+ community following the introduction of Bill 8.

Laura Hawthorne with GALAP says she is appalled with some of the language used by LaGrange when it comes to her handling of the community at large.

“Saying that she’s inclusive for whatever labels and then just calls everyone ‘whatever’. She couldn’t call people gay, or queer, or questioning or LGBTQ+, nothing. Just, ‘whatever’.”

Bill 8 is slated to change some of the rules in the Education Act, including not enforcing a strict time limit for principals to grant a students request for a Gay-Straight Alliance in a school.

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Hawthorne says the recent province-wide protests should have been an eye opener for Premier Jason Kenney. However, while he did at the time say it was great to see young people taking an interest in issues, he added, “We want to make sure young people are learning in class instead of doing politics outside of school during school hours.”

“With his education minister coming out now and saying ‘whatever’ when it comes to an entire community, with thousands of kids that stepped out to say ‘no we matter, this matters’ they just roll their eyes and shrug it off. It’s heartbreaking.”

Hawthorne says GALAP will always be an organization those looking for help can turn to in a time of need, and she believes that offer is vital, now more than ever.

“It seemed like we were on track to becoming a more inclusive community worldwide, and instead it seems like we’re being shut down very quickly and told that we don’t matter.”

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Minister LaGrange says the government wanted to clarify what they call misconceptions in the debate over Bill 8.

“To be absolutely clear: our government opposes mandatory parental notification of student involvement in inclusion groups, and Alberta will have among the most comprehensive statutory protections for gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in Canada,” she says.

“Once requested by students, creating a GSA is not optional. In Alberta, like Manitoba and Ontario, the Education Act specifically guarantees in legislation that students are entitled to create inclusion groups, including GSAs and QSAs.”

The statement adds that compared to legislation in provinces like Ontario and Manitoba, the Education Act in Alberta provides greater direction regarding the appointment of a staff liaison for the student organization.

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