BREAKING NEWS: Will Edmonton Public Schools break the law & block parents?

door with blocked tape resampled

Question: Should school staff be forbidden to share information with parents regarding a child’s activities during the school day?

That is the question that will be up for debate by Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) trustees on Tuesday September 12th, thanks to a motion put forward by trustee Bridget Stirling:

Motion that the Board of Trustees affirms our commitment to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of sexual and gender minority students as stated in HFA.BP and HFA.AR, including students’ participation in gay-straight alliances and queer-straight alliances, and will not disclose information about students’ participation in these groups to any person without the student’s consent.

… Further, the board will submit a recommendation that protecting student privacy and confidentiality in GSAs be included in the proposed amendments to the School Act.

Here are four immediately obvious concerns with Stirling’s proposed motion:

1. The Law

The law says that parents have a legal right to know what is happening during the school day, including their child’s participation in extracurricular activities at school.

The law does not state anything about this information being contingent on a child’s permission.

For example, the Alberta Family Law Act, SA 2003, c F-4.5 states:

21(4)(a) …each guardian is entitled to be informed of and consulted about and to make all significant decisions affecting the child in the exercise of the powers and responsibilities of guardianship…

21(6) …each guardian may exercise the following powers:

(a) to make day‑to‑day decisions affecting the child, including having the day‑to‑day care and control of the child and supervising the child’s daily activities …

(c) to make decisions about the child’s education, including the nature, extent and place of education and any participation in extracurricular school activities

These laws exist for a reason – for the protection of children. It is audacious of Stirling to suggest that somehow she can cherry-pick whatever laws she wishes to follow when it comes to the care of almost 100,000 children attending Edmonton Public Schools.

The question must be asked: Why is it that only participation in these certain groups should be considered worthy of a special cloak of secrecy that directly violates Alberta’s Family Law Act?

If schools are permitted to operate without the oversight and accountability of parents then it introduces more risk to children, not less.

2. Developmental Needs

Any parent or teacher knows there are vast differences between the developmental needs of a kindergarten student and a high school student. Yet Stirling fails to include any age, maturity or developmental distinctions in her proposed motion.

There are times that students misbehave in class, fail exams, refuse to do their homework or skip school. What would happen if policies required school staff to get a child’s permission first before sharing any of this information with parents?

It is reckless and developmentally inappropriate to insist that the information shared with parents is contingent on the judgement of a child as young as five years of age.  Children are not miniature adults and we should not expect them to be.

3. Safety Risks

If Stirling was truly concerned about the privacy of children then she would ensure that the GSA Network, which directed children to sexually graphic material, was not still collecting personal information from K-12 children in order to provide private “support” to them.

Yes, that is actually happening.

“Experts” who publicly provided links to children directing them to sex toys, videos of naked people engaging in sexual acts and advice to “pay for porn” are still using their website to collect the name, school and contact information of K-12 children without any knowledge, consent or oversight of a teacher or parent.

Where is Stirling’s concern about protecting a child’s privacy in that situation?

To ensure the safety of children, parents deserve to know the materials being presented to their children and the people who are accessing their children at anytime during the school day – this is especially true in light of the way GSA leaders have already severely violated the public trust and endangered children.

4. Logic

Is Stirling’s motion based on the false assumption that disclosing information about a child’s participation in GSAs/QSAs could lead to a child being “outed”?

If so, then she needs to re-evaluate her logic.

The very premise of these clubs is to bring together students who identify as LGBT+ alongside students who don’t – hence the name “Gay-Straight Alliance”.

Simply informing anyone of a child’s participation in a GSA does not “out” children since they often attend as allies to support others, not necessarily because they personally identify as an LGBT+ student.

Merely disclosing a student’s participation in a GSA/QSA reveals nothing about a student’s gender or sexuality.

Why the rush?

It is deeply troubling that a school trustee, entrusted with the safety of almost 100,000 children in Edmonton, would propose a motion that so blatantly defies law, logic, developmental age-appropriateness and safety risks.

But even more troubling is the hasty timeline Stirling is attempting to impose in order to limit debate on this important topic.

On Stirling’s blog she stated that she is planning to “request a waiver of notice of motion”.

Normally a regular “notice of motion” provides a month of time for trustees to collect information and consider a motion more fully before having to debate and come to a decision.

To request a waiver of notice of motion means that the debate must happen immediately, with very short notice.

Why the rush for something that would have such drastic consequences for the safety and well-being of children?

URGENT: Action needed

If you live in Edmonton, here is what I urge you to do:

Please take 10-15 minutes sometime TODAY or TOMORROW prior to the Board meeting on Tuesday September 12th to send an email to all the board trustees and the Superintendent (emails listed below) to let them know that it is reckless to consider this motion, especially on such a hasty timeline.

cheryl.johner@epsb.ca, michelle.draper@epsb.ca, orville.chubb@epsb.ca, ray.martin@epsb.ca, ken.gibson@epsb.ca, michael.janz@epsb.ca, bridget.stirling@epsb.ca, nathan.ip@epsb.ca, sherry.adams@epsb.ca, darrel.robertson@epsb.ca

Send this message to others you know living in Edmonton and ask them to do the same.

Understand that the scope of this motion not only impacts Edmonton, but also includes a recommendation that this privacy and confidentiality be legislated by the government into the School Act for all Alberta schools.

Encourage trustees to insist that Stirling bring forward her proposal with enough time to allow for proper public consultation, debate and informed decision making.

Most trustees are seeking re-election in the upcoming October 16th vote. In your message make sure to let them know that your vote is contingent on how they deal with this critical moment.

For the sake of all children, let’s work together to prioritize safety, not secrets.

UPDATE

September 12th Board Meeting results – READ HERE.

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27 comments

  1. astrid

    Theresa:
    We are in the Calgary area but this is a concern for every parent. Thanks for keeping us informed. I asked before to PCE but I think I will ask again. Can we take legal action against these activits? It looks like nothing will stop their end goal of separating parents from their children unless we take them to court.

    Liked by 1 person

    • informedalbertans

      Thank you, Astrid. So far there has not been a family willing to come forward publicly. It would be a tremendous sacrifice. In the meantime, people need to exercise the democratic rights and responsibilities that they do have. Elect individuals who will take a stand on these important issues and replace the ones who won’t. Unfortunately our biggest enemy is complacency. People like to get outraged temporarily, but if change is to happen then we need sustained engagement and a willingness to be persistent for the long-term.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sid

    Sterling needs to be fired. She has NO right to even propose this .Parents you need to get VERY involved IN THIS. No one in the school system has a right to involve your children in any teachings or extra curriculum that you do not approve us. I do not understand why any child needs anyone outside their immediate family to talk to them about sex or their feelings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ian Brown

      Primarily because many parents/guardians do not talk to their children about LGBTQ+ identities, leaving these youth confused about their feelings, and often feeling ‘wrong’ or ‘broken’. GSAs in schools serve to provide this education and clarification for students who cannot find it at home. They also provide support and acceptance for, again, youth who do not receive it at home.

      Like

      • informedalbertans

        Hi Ian,

        Thanks for your comment.

        A child simply having a space to talk with peers and gain support in schools can be beneficial.

        However, if we truly care about the long-term health of any child then we should not stop there. Our priority must always be to move toward engaging sources of support beyond just the school. Most often, this will be the child’s family, but could also include health professionals, counsellors from agencies beyond the school, etc.

        If a child relies solely on a peer-support group within the four walls of a school and no other sources of support are ever accessed or engaged then what happens when that child moves to a different school or a different city?

        A child with multiple sources of support will have much stronger long-term success than a child who has relied on only one source of support. Therefore, the priority of any sort of support offered in schools should be focused on equipping and supporting children to reach out to others to ensure that other supports are available, ready and in place as soon as they are needed.

        Open-ness, transparency, and a focus on mediation and enhancing communication leads to health. Fostering an attitude of secrecy and an inherent mistrust of others does the opposite.

        Children in schools are between the ages of 5 and 18 years of age. Children – because they are children – do not have the same emotional, mental and cognitive maturity as adults and therefore should not have the expectations of adulthood placed on them.
        School staff do not help children by being secret keepers, but by supporting the child with tools to reach out to multiple sources of support beyond just the school, which – except in rare cases – should always be the child’s family first and foremost.

        For the sake of children, let’s prioritize safety, not secrets.

        Sincerely,
        Theresa

        Liked by 1 person

      • S Bownes

        Sorry, but I spent 12 hours in labor and birthed my children as well as am raising them by my morals and ethics, I choose. How I choose to educate my children about the LGBTQ topics is my business, not yours.

        Like

  3. Karen

    A vote for this motion is a vote against family. Parents who choose to send their children to public school are not thereby abdicating to the state their parental responsibilities as primary educators and guardians of their children’s intellectual and moral development.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mindy

    Thank you for sharing this. I would have not know anything about this and in all reality every parent with a child in an Edmonton school should receive notification about this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jason P.

    Welcome to Liberalism . Congratulations to all who voted our current government into power . The school systems are beginning to force the Muslim and Islamic beliefs on the Canadian kids and due to the large amount of outrage throughout Canada , the logical solution for the government and all departments who are essentially under government control is to conceal what they are doing and keep Canadians “dumbed down” so to speak , they need us all to remain ignorant to what they are doing in the pursuit of the current Liberal agenda . For anyone who is currently unaware of the actions of the current government , there are vast amounts of readily available information for all to read via the internet . CBC ,CTV and Global News do not relay current events in out country with even the slightest level honesty and integrity , they are merely propaganda machines for the Liberal government………. consider how much money Justin Trudeau has given the CBC in his short time as our “leader” if you will…….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bryan kinsey

    These trustees fail to realize they work for the school and communities not the other way around. Parents have a right to know what is taught in their children’s schools. If school boards want to continue to see school funding they will remember who pays their salaries. Parents can take their children from schools and home school them, recieve the funding the schools recieve for their children – it should be remembered school boards work for the schools and the parents not the other way around. Try to remember your place in the system, it will work better that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Julie Smith

    JUST saw this post and fired off an email to my trustee, Bridget Stirling. I mentioned that her website says, “She believes in making decisions grounded in good research and community input.” I also stated that I would find it impossible to vote for a trustee who has such casual disregard for a child’s safety and the relationships, responsibilities and rights of parents and children (and that I’ll actively encourage others to examine their voting choices as well). I’ve emailed her before and don’t think it will make a single bit of difference, but at least she’s heard from one community member…

    Liked by 2 people

    • informedalbertans

      Thank you, Julie. It is always important that our elected representatives hear from us because it helps inform their perception and understanding of public engagement on issues. Use your voice or you risk losing it. And if elected representatives fail to listen to your voice then you can hold them accountable with your vote. We have the privilege and responsibility of living in a democracy and we should never take that for granted.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hozz

    Excerpts from the Alberta Family Law Act, SA 2003, c F-4.5 appear compelling, until you consider the child’s charter protected right to feel secure. That’s the great thing about charter rights, every Canadian, children included are afforded them.

    Like

  9. Mervin J. Tuplin

    Anyone voting to break the law that is in place, will be putting themselves in a state with severe consequences,
    I could not vote for any trustee who would endorse such a motion.
    Police are required to give tickets for anyone who breaks the law. There are consequences..

    Like

  10. David Jeffares

    I am concerned about moves within the school system which drive yet another wedge between parents and their children. I am also concerned about the mounting pressure there is in convincing children to explore avenues of sexuality they might not even worry about if they weren’t encouraged to explore the merits of sexual deviation.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: Trustee wants privacy protections for students in the School Act | Edmonton Journal
  12. Deb Phillips

    “….The Law

    The law says that parents have a legal right to know what is happening during the school day, including their child’s participation in extracurricular activities at school.

    The law does not state anything about this information being contingent on a child’s permission…..”

    Does the child need permission to stay out after the street lights come on, or does the child give itself permission?
    Does the child need permission to buy alcohol? Does the child need permission to buy cigarettes? Or will the child need permission to buy marijuana? Does the child need permission to have a sleep over at someone else’s home or does the child give the parent “the permission?”
    Unless their is abuse from one person to another (including all ages) and that child REQUIRES BY LAW protection, this is an area where clearly the child needs support from loving individuals, even if that means it’s coming from a parent who doesn’t understand or “agree”. That family has THE RIGHT to seek counsel/help/clergy in order to get through it. It may be difficult/challenging/ugly in fact, but the truth will set them all free. NOT by running from it. By witholding communications, you are tearing a family apart – not giving it a chance to survive through difficult times – and taking it into your own hands (the person witholding the information) thinking that you have what – the power? It’s not power. It’s insanity. It’s not in the child’s best interest…it’s in the EGO of those saying, “It’s okay, we are here for you.” No, you are not. You are putting yourself on a pedestal trying to be the idol.

    One of the very first lessons a child learns is: “If someone tells you not to tell, that means, you need to tell.” And so goes it with schools. And so it goes to protect A CHILD.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. brenda bowden

    I have two children that were forced out of Edmonton public schools ! I refused to let them be put on medication and now my older daughter has severe headaches and joint pains from meds because child services took her from me to inforce this and she even lost part of her finger from being restraint ! now I am trying to get my second child in eps and getting the run around because I have complained but they figure they can be force children to become institutionalized and get the kids to be made at the parent because as a parent I can not do anything. this has ruined my childrens future and been fighting now 7 years and I have a book I am self publishing because of the emotional headache this has caused my family. yes we do come forward but they block every evidence of phonecalls etc its really about bullying.

    Liked by 1 person

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