Grande Prairie Catholic School District takes a stand

According to a February 2nd article in the Daily Herald-Tribune, Grande Prairie Catholic School District’s draft policy on sexual orientation and gender identity will not include some of the more contentious government recommendations contained in the guidelines document.

For example, the school board intends to use the legal information on birth certificates as the basis for a student’s identification of gender and they are considering wordings that acknowledge parental rights to be informed of the gender identity information of their children.

By contrast, Richard Einarson, an advisory board member with Progress Alberta and a spokesperson for Safe Schools Alberta, presents another opinion.

He shared his views in the Calgary Herald on February 4th saying Alberta Education’s guidelines are part of the implementation of Bill 10: An Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights to Protect our Children, which was passed in March 2015 by the Alberta Legislature.  On this basis, he claims that “there simply can’t be an opt out on basic human rights legislation, in any school, in any part of Alberta.”

From his perspective, those “who oppose various aspects of the guidelines have focused most of the arguments on the discomfort some parents have in dealing with issues of sexual orientation, gender and identity. That discomfort stems from taboos instilled in many current adults at a very young age. But this doesn’t mean that we should continue to impose these taboos on our next generation of adults.”

So far the only source I have located with an indication of Alberta Education’s response to Grande Prairie Catholic’s decision is from a February 3rd article from Calgary’s Metro News. The article quotes Minister of Education David Eggen responding that, “I expect we’ll have a chance to work with Grande Prairie Catholic specifically and I think that we can work through this in an amicable sort of way.”

According to this same article, Eggen also indicated that although the deadline to submit a policy draft is March 31, there will be reviews and follow-ups.

However, what remains unclear to Albertans and likely even the trustees themselves, is how provincial government reviews and follow-ups could potentially require school boards to revise or adjust their policies, especially when school boards remain accountable to the students, staff, parents, and citizens they serve.

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