It is impressive to see students take a stand when they see something happening they feel isn’t right. That is exactly what students in Airdrie and Cochrane did May 3, when they opted to walk out on first period in protest of the proposed changes to gay-straight alliance (GSA) legislation.
United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney has stated his government intends to overturn the New Democratic Party's GSA legislation and revert to the old law that allows GSAs, but without blanket privacy protection for students.
Under the old legislation, teaching staff who feel a student’s health or safety is at risk have the option to tell parents their child has joined a GSA.
Why does this legislated privacy matter? As two Alberta Court of Appeal justices wrote in their recent dismissal of an appeal to a special-interest-group lawsuit, “the public good of protecting the safety and privacy of children, as well as promoting an inclusive school environment, is extremely high.”
The fear that comes with the removal of privacy from GSAs is real, with LGBTQ2+ advocates saying ‘outing’ a student to parents could lead to suicide, dangerous situations at home and cause kids to leave home or be thrown out.
Research suggests schools with GSAs have improved student leadership, with reduced alcohol use and psychological distress among GSA members. Participation in a GSA has also been positively correlated with an increase in academic performance, increased attendance and a greater likelihood of college-level education attainment.It is any wonder students are fighting to protect GSAs and those in them?