Canada: Alberta to make gay-straight alliances mandatory for schools

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Canadian province of Alberta is set to make gay-straight alliances mandatory for all state-funded schools.

The Progressive Conservative government – which has previously blocked plans to facilitate LGBT groups in schools – announced a U-turn on the issue this week.

Education Minister Gordon Dirks unexpectedly tabled an amendment to a government bill that says schools must allow a gay-straight alliance if pupils request one.

Previously, individual schools have had discretion to block GSAs at will – and the Tories voted down a bill from Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman on the issue last year.

Mr Dirks said he had consulted on the issue extensively since, saying: “Some of those moments were very moving moments as you heard students telling their stories of being bullied, discriminated against, feeling suicidal, even attempting [it].

“I remember one conversation with a student talking about how they had attempted suicide so when that happens and you have those kinds of intimate, frank conversations with students, it goes from your head to your heart”.

Premier of Alberta Jim Prentice said: “This is a case of a government responding to what they are hearing from the citizens of the province, including young people, who have had a significant say in this, who have moved me, and who have moved the minister.

Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman was moved to tears by the amendment, telling the National Post: “It’s hard to contain my joy… I came into politics to change the world and today I changed the world.”