School boards have submitted their LGBTQ policies to the province, but it doesn't look like they'll all make the grade, according to one non-profit.
In a report released Tuesday, Public Interest Alberta (PIA) examined four school boards policies in Red Deer, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, and St. Albert. They found inconsistencies in how well they actually set up LGBTQ students to succeed.
The Alberta government gave schools a mandate earlier this year to implement changes to better support LGBTQ students.
The government drafted a series of guidelines to help schools, but ultimately left it up to each board to build their own.
PIA graded schools on six criteria:
- Does the school have a specific standalone sexual orientation and gender identity policy, and is it publicly available?
- Does the policy comply with Alberta's human rights legislation?
- Does it clearly address the needs of LGBTQ students, staff and families?
- Does it provide specific supports and accomodations for trans or non-gender-binary students?
- Does it protect student privacy?
- Does it impose no additional constraints or requirements on students?
While Red Deer's school board passed with flying colours, it looks like St. Albert Catholic schools might end up in detention.
The school district doesn't have standalone policies that specifically apply to LGBTQ students. There's also "no acknowledgment of the existence of or legal rights of transgender students," according to PIA's report.
It's also St. Albert Catholic schools' policy to push students with same-sex attractions to focus on "prayer, self-control and chastity."
Dr. Kristopher Wells, director of University of Alberta's Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, said the group's motive is to ensure LGBTQ youth aren't seen as "a problem" in school systems.
"We wanted to ensure that LGBTQ youth were not seen as a problem to be managed through these policies in schools, that somehow they had to be constrained, contained or hidden away within these school communities," he said in a statement.
All Alberta students should be entitled to the same supports, resources, and protections "regardless of where they go to school," he said.
The organization is hoping their rankings motivate all Alberta schools to modify their policies to "make the grade."
Schools refuse to make policies
There are still some boards that are refusing to comply with the government's policy.
Pastor Brian Coldwell, chair of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society, says his board's two schools will not be enacting guidelines to support LGBTQ students. Both schools receive funding from Alberta's government.
“It’s trying to impose the gay activist rainbow ideology, if you will – that’s really the hidden agenda here," Coldwell told Global News.
Education Minister David Eggen has not confirmed if boards who refuse to comply will face consequences, CBC News reported.
On August 16, Eggen posted an open letter on Facebook welcoming Alberta students back to school and reminding them they all have the right to feel safe.
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