Gay-straight alliance members worry they'll be outed if UCP win Alberta election
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from B.C. Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy
Published Thursday, April 11, 2019 10:00PM EDT
While the economy appears to be one of the most dominant issues in Alberta’s provincial election, the future of gay-straight alliance clubs has taken centre stage in the past few weeks.
Members of the school clubs -- where LGBTQ students and their allies can meet and support each other -- are worried about being outed against their wishes.
If the United Conservative Party wins the election, its leader Jason Kenney has pledged to scrap current legislation which prevents school staff from outing LGBTQ youth to their parents.
“We want peer support for students …. while respecting the basic religious freedom of faith-based independent schools,” Kenney said during the campaign trail.
Despite Kenney saying he supports GSA clubs, his detractors say he’s merely paying lip service. Many have begun protesting Kenney’s pledge.
During middle school, Kassia Lambert in Red Deer, Alta., felt comfortable coming out to her friends and family. But she said others don’t have that support.
“A lot of my friends that I now know don’t have safe houses to be out,” she told CTV News. Another student, Kyra Nordgran, said she felt “angry that people want to go back decades.”
Alberta has 70 of these student-run groups which welcome children with different gender identities and sexual orientation and which sometimes provide educational materials.
Lambert and Nordgran view the clubs as safe spaces which protect students like them.
On the campaign trial, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said having LGBTQ students’ privacy respected “saves lives.”
Another controversy includes the current and former UCP candidates who have been linked to homophobic comments.
MLA Mark Smith, who serves as the UCP’s education critic and is running for re-election, was heavily criticized after an audio recording from 2013 appeared to show him equating same-sex love to pedophilia.
LGBTQ advocate Shay J. Vandershaeghe said seeing the campaign season unfold has not been very comforting.
“We have seen lots of discrimination, lots of stigma, lots of really inappropriate behavior,” Vandershaeghe told CTV News.