Alberta mother breaks her silence on gay-straight alliances
Corinne Ton That, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:14AM EDT
The Edmonton mother of a boy prevented from starting a gay-straight alliance at his high school is speaking out, after remaining silent for years.
The mother, who chose to remain anonymous, says she decided to share her son’s story following the defeat of a motion in the Alberta legislature on Monday.
If passed, the motion would have made it mandatory for all Alberta school boards to allow the creation of gay-straight alliances.
According to a Canadian GSA website, mygsa.ca, the student-run groups provide “a safe place for any and all students to meet and learn about all different orientations, to support each other while working together to end homophobia, and to raise awareness and promote equality for all human beings.”
The mother says her son proposed a GSA at his high school in 2012, one year after he came out as gay.
“The school was actually very receptive; they met with us right away, and for the next maybe month and a half, we kind of went back and forth on what was important to have in the GSA,” she told CTV Edmonton.
But the proposal was shot down by the school board.
“It’s simply philosophically not who we are, or how we come to be as a community that is in solidarity with everybody’s need at the same time,” David Keohane, superintendent of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, told CTV Edmonton.
“We simply don’t believe that a person feels whole and feels that they can be completely embraced in society for who they are by addressing that student in isolation,” he said.
Education Minister Jeff Johnson, who voted against the motion, told CTV News he isn’t aware of the boy’s attempt to start a GSA at his school.
“I’m not aware of that at all, but I think if any of those situations exist, certainly I’d like to be made aware of them,” he said.
But in an email to the Edmonton mother obtained by CTV News, Johnson refers to the boy’s situation, and says he feels the issue of gay-straight alliances should be decided by school boards.
Meanwhile, Calgary-Liberal MLA Kent Hehr, who brought the motion forward, pointed to the difference between public and Catholic boards.
“We have 40 GSAs in this province, and they’re all at public schools,” he told reporters.
The Edmonton mother, however, says she is hopeful for change. “I think in time, it will happen, hopefully sooner rather than later,” she said.
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Brenna Rose