Canada: Teen granted permission to put up gay-straight alliance posters

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A Canadian teenager in Manitoba who previously voiced his support for a bill to allow gay-straight alliances in his school district has won the right to put up posters for the club at his school.

Evan Wiens, who recently turned 17, attended a meeting with school board members on Tuesday evening, and subsequently announced that the board had granted him permission to put the posters up.

Wiens said he was very pleased with the board’s decision, and said that he was hopeful that being able to publicise the club will make other students feel more welcome.

Prior to the decision being made, he said: “I seem to be hopefully convincing some board members. Some seemed a little bit intimidating but the meeting generally went pretty good.”

The teenager said he had put up a poster for the gay straight alliance, but it had been taken down, and that he had been told that no clubs were allowed to put up posters. Despite this, he said there were posters for many other groups in the hallways.

Wiens previously said he was the only openly gay student in his school, and has faced homophobic bullying to the point where he was afraid to walk through the school corridors.

He is a supporter of Bill 18, which would require all schools in Manitoba to allow students to form gay-straight alliances, as well as clubs promoting equality between students of different genders, races, and abilities.

There have already been objections to the bill from religious groups. A meeting to oppose the bill in Steinbach, a town with a high Christian population, drew a crowd of 1,200 people out of its 13,500 residents.

The bill is expected to become law this summer, but will be subject to public hearings first.