11/25/2014 09:38 EST | Updated 01/25/2015 05:59 EST

Alberta premier allows free vote for bill on straight-gay alliances

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says he will allow his caucus members to vote their conscience on a bill directing schools to allow gay-straight alliances.

Prentice says Bill 202 is not one that lends itself to members being told how to vote.

The private member's bill, introduced by the Liberals, directs schools to allow students to set up the alliances if they so wish.

The alliances are support networks that give support to gay students and prevent them from being bullied.

Advocates say the alliances have been proven to reduce suicide among gay youth.

The NDP plans to support the bill while the Wildrose party says it wants to see changes to allow faith-based schools to opt out but still provide a safe atmosphere for all students.