Education Minister David Eggen speaks to the media in Edmonton on Wednesday November 15, 2017. Alberta’s law banning schools from telling parents when their child joins a gay-straight alliance faces its first legal challenge next week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta threatens to pull funding for 28 schools over gay-straight alliances

EDMONTON — Alberta Education Minister David Eggen is directing 28 privately run schools to post rules affirming the rights of LGBTQ students or risk having their funding pulled by next school year.

Eggen says he doesn’t want to take such a drastic step, but children have a right to be safe at school.

The posted rules include the provision that students can set up a gay-straight alliance in the school if they wish.

Gay-straight alliances are support groups set up by students to help LGBTQ students feel accepted and reduce bullying or abuse.

Private schools receive as much as 70 per cent of their funding from the province.

Eggen has given the faith-based schools until the end of June to comply or funding will be withdrawn next fall.

“I sincerely hope that we will not need to take this step,” Eggen said Wednesday. “But I have been clear — following the law is not optional. Ensuring vulnerable children feel safe and included at school is not optional.”

All public, separate, francophone, and charter schools have policies in place, representing more than 98 per cent of kindergarten to Grade 12 students, Eggen added.

Gay-straight alliances have become a divisive political issue in Alberta.

The Opposition United Conservatives say while all children must be treated fairly and equally, the rights of parents cannot be pushed to the sidelines.

The party passed a policy this year saying parents should be told if their child joins a school club of a religious or sexual nature, but advocates say that would deter children from joining and could out them before they are ready.

United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney says parents should be told if a child’s safety could be at risk.

The gay-straight alliances are being challenged in court by United Conservative Party member John Carpay’s advocacy group Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. The Centre argues parents should be told if their child joins a gay-straight alliance, which it has called “ideological sexual clubs”’ that make graphic information on gay sex available.

Premier Rachel Notley is calling for Kenney to kick Carpay out of the party for comments Carpay made in a weekend speech.

In his remarks, Carpay warned of the ongoing dangers to individual freedoms, likening the LGBTQ rainbow flag to totalitarian symbols such as the hammer and sickle for communism and the swastika in Nazi Germany.

Carpay apologized in a statement Sunday for drawing the comparison, calling it unintentional.

Just Posted

1,200 runners came out to Woody’s RV Marathon in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Matthew Hope ran in the Woody’s RV World Marathon for… Continue reading

Two men steal 16 year old’s car at gunpoint in Alberta

RCMP are looking for two men who allegedly produced a handgun and… Continue reading

Mother of five who died in hit and run in central Alberta a huge loss to family, police say

Rocky Mountain House RCMP continue to investigate hit and killed case on… Continue reading

‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

EDMONTON — Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging… Continue reading

Speed, alcohol considered factors in deadly Calgary crash: police

CALGARY — The Calgary Police Service says two people are dead after… Continue reading

WATCH: First Red Deer Market of 2019

The event is held every Saturday in the Servus Arena parking lot

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Speaker stuns Morehouse grads, to pay off $40M student debt

A billionaire technology investor stunned the entire graduating class at Morehouse College… Continue reading

Unions increasingly at odds over replacing troubled Phoenix pay system

OTTAWA — The federal team charged with finding a replacement for the… Continue reading

Sisters of Ste-Anne hold unique garage sale before giving up Montreal convent

MONTREAL — The Montreal-area Sisters of Ste-Anne are hosting a unique garage… Continue reading

Canadian pilot Patrick Forseth killed in Honduras plane crash: sister

TRUJILLO, Honduras — A British Columbia woman says her pilot brother was… Continue reading

As states pass restrictive abortion laws, questions surface

ATLANTA — As multiple states pass laws banning many abortions, questions have… Continue reading

Pelosi being honoured with JFK Profile in Courage Award

BOSTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is being honoured with the 2019… Continue reading

India’s marathon national election reaches the finish line

KOLKATA, India — Voting in India’s mammoth national election ended Sunday with… Continue reading

Most Read