By Letter to the Editor on December 1, 2017.
Bill 24 has now become law in Alberta. According to Education Minister David Eggen, Bill 24 has amended the Education Act so that parents may not be advised even upon request if their child (from Grade 1 to 12) has become involved in a gay-straight alliance in school and if the child does not want the parent to be informed. Bill 24 has gone beyond Bill 10, which allowed for the formation of these alliances in schools and which received unanimous support from all MLAs. Schoolteachers would administer and involve parents at the proper time.
Apparently Bill 24 is to provide the child a safe environment in school and to protect the child from the unpredictable response of his/her parents. The new and allegedly scary UCP Leader Jason Kenney and his comments on parental rights and their children have necessitated this kind of legislation. It is surprising and disappointing that both the ATA and ASBA have immediately come out in support. The ASBA is elected by taxpayers who are also parents, but apparently parents cannot be trusted. What happens if the affected parent is either a trustee or school staff?
Considerable public debate is occurring in the media and the NDP does have support. Kenney has been criticized that his social conservative views are detracting attention from other major provincial issues, like the sputtering economy, a struggling energy industry and the unfolding of convoluted climate change policies. This NDP strategy is working. A social conservative issue will detract Albertans from a rather dismal governing record. The campaign for the 2019 election has just begun.
But, Bill 24 is more than a campaign strategy for it has implications which should concern all Albertans, but they appear to be ignored. Parents have been marginalized. They will not be the primary people in their children’s lives on this issue, says the state. Yet, Bill 10 involved all the important players including parents.
Eggen on Calgary talk radio could not answer adequately what support would be provided in this alliance. He mentioned that he attended such a meeting recently and the discussion was about recipes. If a 10-year-old is having a gender identity crisis and if the parents are not to be involved, who provides support outside the school? Will Eggen operate an evening and weekend hotline, or is the child to turn off the personal crisis until a return to school?
This whole scenario is troublesome. Bill 24 is both mean-spirited and malicious. This government has attacked the family unit; it is prepared to drive a wedge between parents and their children. The consequences are not important. It has forced important educational agencies, like the ATA and ABSA, to pick a side. All this for political expediency. The important question for all Albertans is whether this kind of politics will be rewarded come the next election.
You must be logged in to post a comment.