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Central Albertans rally against Red Deer Catholic’s reported directive to remove pride materials

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Stephanie Hodgkins, vice-chair of the Red Deer Queer Community Association, speaks during a rally that was held in response to the Alberta Teachers’ Association claiming Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools has directed teachers to remove all Pride materials. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Central Albertans gathered at Red Deer City Hall to rally against the claims of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools’ new anti-Pride rules.

The Red Deer Queer Community Association hosted a protest on Saturday, just days after Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling said teachers recently told him that the division’s superintendent directed them to get rid of all Pride-related flags and material in their classrooms, report if students disclose to them that they are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community so parents can be told, and report if they overhear students talking about possibly being in a same-sex relationship.

“We feel these directives are shortsighted and that they are going to cause a lot more harm than they realize,” said Stephanie Hodgkins, vice-chair of the association.

“The students are scared. The teachers are tired of this kind of gatekeeping for who is accepted in their schools. I feel that Red Deer Catholic … is so out of touch with their teachers and their students.”

Last week, five 2SLGBTQ+ groups — RDQCA, HOME, Central Alberta Pride, Queer Citizens United and Innisfail Pride — released a statement demanded the Red Deer Catholic directives be cancelled.

Hodgkins said after the ATA made claims of Red Deer Catholic’s anti-Pride rules, teachers and students approached the RDQCA about hosting a possible protest.

“There is so much love and support that exists for the (2SLGTBQIA+) community. The UCP and catholic school board may think that they’re winning points and getting support, but they aren’t,” said Hodgkins.

Earlier this year Premier Danielle Smith announced policies involving transgender adults and youth — from restrictions at school, including parental consent for students 15 and under who want to change their names or pronouns at school. Students 16 and 17 would not need consent, but their parents would have to be notified. Parents must also opt in for their children to be taught gender, sexual orientation and sexuality in schools.

Legislation and policies aren’t expected to be rolled out until the fall legislature sitting.

Starting next month, the RDQCA will begin hosting youth group gatherings at the Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch.

“A couple of years ago we tried to run youth groups, but had lower attendance. Under the current climate, we feel young people in our community need more support. They need a safe space,” said Hodgkins.

“If our schools aren’t going to be a safe space, then we’ll make one. I spoke with the (Red Deer Public Library) and have arranged to use a room. Starting April 5, after school at 3 p.m., we’ll welcome any kid into that room.”

For more information on the RDQCA, as well as a schedule for the nonprofit organization’s youth group gatherings, visit rdqca.com. People can also connect with the association on Facebook and Instagram.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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