24 private religious schools in Alberta, Canada have launched a challenge to a law that allows schools to launch Gay-Straight alliances. The social clubs are increasingly popular in both north America and Europe as young people become more open minded about their own, and their peers, sexuality as they grow up.
Gay-straight alliances have been a lightning rod issue in Alberta in recent years given their location at the intersection of education, religion, students’ rights, parents’ rights and human rights. Bill 24, introduced in 2017, mandated that schools which receive public funding must set up a GSA if requested by students, and made it clear a school official could not notify parents of their children’s participation in such groups unless there was a direct threat of harm.
Growing up in Alberta we had loving + open minded parents + friends + we still chose to come out after we graduated high school. Coming out should be a choice. Safe inclusive spaces should be the norm. And privacy should be non negotiable. #Bill24
The largely Christian backed group says it is concerned or parental rights to provide education based on the belief that gender is strictly binary and marriage can only be between one man and one woman. They allege that these groups promote unhealthy sexual activities to youth who are too young to understand such matters.
Advocates of gay-straight alliances say such clubs are critical to kids’ well-being and to keep them from self-harm. But they say some parents would be hostile to their children joining and that by notifying parents, children would not take the risk to sign up and the GSAs would wither and die.