Students across the province will be participating in a walkout today to protest the United Conservative’s policy on Gay Straight Alliances (GSA).
Pamela Gerardo, a grade 12 student at Father Mercredi High School and the president of their GSA said it’ll be a silent protest to show the government how needed the clubs are.
“We’re hoping to get more attention on the fact that we aren’t trying to push a perspective on anyone, we’re just trying to show that this affects a lot of kids and it’s not something that could be pushed under a rug.”
When Premier Jason Kenney was in Fort McMurray on the campaign trail he said he’s against bullying and supports GSAs, but disagrees with the current NDP legislation, that he believes pits schools against parents. His new policy would make it mandatory that parents are notified if their child joins the club.
“We shouldn’t create a completely adversarial approach in law, which basically under the NDP law says that parents can never be trusted in any circumstances. I think there are unique circumstances where a school can say ‘this child needs the loving support of caring parents’, and we shouldn’t completely foreclose the possibility of that in the law.”
He also said the PC and Wildrose parties supported the original legislation for GSAs in 2014.
When UCP MLA’s Tany Yao and Laila Goodridge were re-elected in April, they voiced their support for the LGBTQ community.
Father Mercredi High School has had a GSA for the past four years and Gerardo said it gives students a free space to express themselves, ask any questions that they need and get resources when they don’t feel safe enough at home to do so.
“Having that group and having that support helps me become a better version of myself and I know that has been the case for a lot of other people,” said Gerardo. “It also helps educate those who are not really sure, because there are some kids that have never met a transgender person or a gay person, and they can come ask us any questions, there is not really a and question and it just gives them the opportunity to broaden their perspective on life.”
Gerardo fears that if the policy goes through LGBTQ students won’t feel safe or accepted.
“We’re going to see a higher rate of suicides between LGBTQ teens. We’re going to see a lot of teens who are not going to feel safe to come out to their parents or anyone and they’re going to come out later in life and we’re going to notice that kids are not going to be safe to come to school anymore because there is no one in their government that supports them.”
The walkout will take place from 9:30 to 9:50.