POLITICS

Alberta prof wants Catholic school trustees to talk about gay-straight alliances

01/07/2015 09:38 EST | Updated 03/09/2015 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - An assistant professor at the University of Alberta is hoping to break the silence of Alberta Catholic school boards when it comes to allowing students to form gay-straight alliances.

Dr. Kristopher Wells of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies has written an open letter to upper level officials.

Wells says trustees have yet to speak about if they understand the student clubs and if they’ll support them.

Gay-straight alliances are friendship groups for gay students and supportive classmates.

The Calgary Catholic School Board has not yet publicly responded to the letter but has said they support all students, regardless of sexual orientation.

Last month, a Leger poll suggested that four out of five Alberta Catholics are not opposed to having gay-straight alliances in school.

“They can’t bring the issues forward out of fear for precautions and certainly the premier has promised consultation and we feel like democratically elected trustees should be part of that consultation, and we should be hearing from them, that’s their jobs,” he said.

Wells added he would like to see trustees call for legislation of GSAs in schools wherever students want them.

Gay-straight alliances already exist in 94 public schools in Edmonton and Calgary but there are none in rural or faith-based schools.

Earlier this fall, Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman introduced a private member's bill which would have given students the right to set up GSAs in their schools.

But the Tories countered with a bill of their own which would have encouraged the establishment of the clubs but left the final decision up to schools and school boards.

The initial version of Bill 10 suggested if those steps were unsuccessful, students would be free to pursue the matter in the courts. The Tories later amended that to promise that if the schools said no, the government would set up the clubs.

Premier Jim Prentice put the legislation on hold at the beginning of December, saying he wanted to hear more from all sides before proceeding with it.

(CFFR, The Canadian Press)