LGBTQ2+ children’s rights in Canada
Here in Canada, for the most part, everybody can get the support they require from the government. This is true whether you are a child or an adult. In the province of Alberta, if youth wish, the school must establish a Gay straight alliance (GSA). A GSA is a lot of things but it is mostly a support group that any student can go to if they have questions about their sexuality. They can also go if they have been bullied because of their sexuality, or for any other reason students feel that they wish to talk to a accepting group of people. Despite what the name implies this support system is open to anybody no matter if they don’t just fit into the categories of gay or straight. GSA’s allows students a place to be themselves even, if their family doesn’t let them do so.
In Alberta, GSA’s have helped so many students in times of crisis. This has had a resounding positive effect on our student culture and helping students navigate the complexity of sexuality.
Sadly, because the new premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, has a much different ideology for schools. He wants to replace the entire legislation that governs Alberta’s schools (the Alberta School Act). The new legislation that he is trying to enact would have many changes that affect students, but the change students care about most is that GSA’s would longer be a mandatory club for schools to have. Also, as a result of the lack of GSA rules schools would be allowed to tell parents if a student joins a GSA.
The youth of Alberta have taken this as a direct attack against both their privacy and an attack against the LGBTQ2+ community. If the youth’s interpretations of events are correct than this is a blatant violation of many or the rights contained in the UNCRC and the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms. Some students even belief that in some cases it can be unsafe if students are in family were if they learned about participation in a GSA abuse could be the result.
Because of the widespread hatred of this new policy students organized a walkout protest. Thousands of student’s walkout out in disdain for the policy. By doing this, students created media attention for the topic. Jason Kenney himself is opposed to this type of protest and urged students not to participate. He has not changed his stance on the policy but other members of the legislative assembly (the group that will decide the fate of the policy) may have changed their opinion.
The best way for anybody to help is to send a letter to your MLA noting your opinion of the topic (if you live in Alberta) or if you don’t live in Alberta to make sure that the rules in your community are clear on LGBTQ2+ rules. We would encourage you to lobby for continuous support of all our rights, including the LGBTQ2+ community
Written by: Joshua Himmens