Thank you to Albertans across the province who have entrusted me with their letters of concern to the Minister of Education. If you have not already done so, please invest 20 minutes to write and send your letter to my mailing address.
Your words are personal, powerful and important.
One letter I received this week broke my heart, strengthening my resolve to continue advocating on behalf of children, parents and teachers.
I received permission from this Grade 9 student to share her letter publicly, on the condition of anonymity.
April 18, 2017
Dear Minister Eggen,
I am a grade 9 student in a Catholic School in Alberta. We have a GSA style club in our school, though under a different name. It is good kids get support, and find others to relate to.
That being said, I want you to know that my entire life I have struggled with an anxiety disorder. My greatest and most important support system has been my mom and dad. They have been there when no one else was, including teachers and friends at school.
Even when I tried to get help at school, I was told horrible things to my face by several teachers. Things like ‘shut-up’, ‘you’re being ridiculous’, ‘every other student can hold it together, so why can’t you’.
It took my mom calling to get me some support and even that wasn’t even enough.
Bottom line is that I would not have been able to survive had it not been for my parents.
My parents are Catholic but they have told me if was Gay they would love me anyway.
I do understand that this is not all parents and you should never have to be afraid to go home. But if you truly believe that your parents are going to be abusive for being who you are then other services should be put in place.
The danger of not telling parents is that kids truly won’t get the support that is desperately needed when you feel like you don’t know who you are and how to cope.
The other danger is that kids are getting special attention for just this issue, and so kids with other problems still have no where to go.
I have known two teens that have committed suicide, both in their grade 10 year. They weren’t part of the LGBTQ community. Where was their support? Where is mine?
Support needs to be in place for everyone.
Why are there posters all over my school for our GSA yet children like me are struggling and suffocating every day and we are left in the shadows.
There are a lot of at risk youth. You can help us all by improving actual supports in schools, like offering actual trained counsellors to all students, and including parents in their care. You should be spending money in schools to ensure children with mental health issues of all kinds are not forgotten.
I was lucky enough to have a support system at home but some families need help to talk. Why don’t you make helping parents talk to their kids the priority? Put money there. Then maybe the two kids I know, that now have no future, would be alive today.
Grade 9 student – Living with anxiety, and still working at it every day,
While this Grade 9 student is perceptive enough to discern a more effective solution, our Minister of Education and many other MLAs have chosen instead to put politics before children, exemplified through edicts emailed to school boards and threats to codify the circumvention of parents into law.
Minister Eggen, why won’t you listen?
In order to best support children, we must encourage parental involvement in children’s lives, enhance communication between school and home and bring in more counsellors and qualified health/medical professionals to support the mental health needs of all students.
If you and your colleagues in the Legislature truly care about children then you will heed the words of this courageous student.