June 23rd, 2024

Packed gallery to hear arguments on GSA legislation

By Medicine Hat News on June 20, 2018.

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Medicine Hat's Court of Queen's bench is seen in this undated photo. Former RCMP officer Elliot Teed was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 to two months in jail for sexual assault and breach of trust charges stemming from a checkstop on Feb. 12, 2015.

About 100 people were left outside a courtroom in Medicine Hat on Wednesday morning as a packed gallery heard arguments an injunction be placed on Alberta’s GSA legislation. Fifty members of the public did secure seats for the morning session, during which the Calgary Sexual Health Centre joined the case as an intervenor.

Lawyers for concerned parents group argue gay-straight alliances that were legislated in 2017 expose minors to sexually explicit material. The provincial government is opposing the injunction.

They argue that provisions that bar disclosing attendance in the clubs violates their rights under the can charter rights and freedoms.

The lawsuit was filed in April in response to a law passed by Premier Rachel Notley’s government late last year.

Gay-straight alliances are peer support networks organized by students to help gay kids feel welcome and to prevent bullying or abuse.

Leading the legal challenge is the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. The group argues in court documents that keeping parents out of the loop violates multiple charter freedoms, including freedom of religion and expression.

It also says gay-straight alliances are “ideological sex clubs” where graphic information on gay sex is available.

The group also says the law has “stripped parents of the ability to know fully where their children are, who they are involved with, and what they may be encouraged to think or do.”

Schools have until the end of June to file information to the government showing they are complying with the new legislation.

The lawsuit asks the judge to put that order on hold pending the full airing of concerns over the law’s constitutionality.

The government, in its legal filings, says the applicants have misstated the role of the alliances and adds that charter freedoms have not been infringed.

“(The applicants) speculate that GSAs are clubs aimed at providing children with sexually explicit material and at making children vulnerable to being preyed upon,” says the government.

“In fact, GSAs focus on creating a safe space where students can socialize, be themselves, make friends and help other students understand the importance of being respectful to LGBTQ people.”

–with files from The Canadian Press

Share this story:

15
-14
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments