‘No chill’ in Bill 44

Alberta Education Minister Dave Hancock says he will work with the human rights commission and school boards on policy to ensure that a new bill doesn’t put a chill on classroom discussions.

Alberta Education Minister Dave Hancock says he will work with the human rights commission and school boards on policy to ensure that a new bill doesn’t put a chill on classroom discussions.

Since Bill 44 was proposed to update the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, teachers and school boards have expressed concern that it could allow parents to pull their children from class if evolution is discussed or homosexuality is even mentioned.

The bill was expected to pass third reading Monday evening.

But Hancock said, “This is not about evolution, it’s not about the age of rocks, and it’s not about whether there is sex in Shakespeare.”

Hancock was speaking during the Alberta School Boards Association meeting, which drew more than 300 school trustees, school board chairs, superintendents and school administration to the Capri Centre in Red Deer on Monday.

He said school boards will be required to notify parents when there is teaching that is “primarily and explicitly” about religion, human sexuality or sexual orientation and the bill gives parents the right to opt their children out of that particular instruction.

“We do not want to have a freeze in the discussion that is happening in our classrooms,” Hancock said.

“We do not want somebody stopped in the midst of a so-called teachable moment and stop and say I can’t talk about religion. Obviously if you talk about the Holocaust there is some discussion about religion, in fact there might be some discussion about sexuality because Hitler persecuted homosexuals, as well as Jews.”

He said similarly religion could come up in a discussion about the Middle East. However, he said notification to parents would only be necessary if a unit on world religions was offered.

“So I don’t see this as changing the current practices significantly or at all. But I’m going to be working very strongly with the school boards and with the human rights commission to make sure that we have clear policy out there because the last thing we want to do is have teachers freeze in the classrooms,” Hancock said.

ASBA president Heather Welwood said school boards have been concerned about the bill because they feel it’s best for parents to deal with concerns at a local school level.

“We felt like we were doing a very good job at accommodating them at that level,” Welwood said. “We are working very hard to put the public back in public education and have parents discuss things at their local level.”

Hancock said the bill wasn’t started on behalf of the Education Department, but was put forward to modernize the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act. He said education on human sexuality is a mandated policy. He said the new bill would move this from a policy — that could be changed by the Education minister without broader discussion — into law, which could only be changed through an extensive process. He said Section 50 of the School Act refers to religious instruction and religious exercises. Bill 44 would broaden that to refer to teaching about religion.


Just Posted

Smoke and pets do not mix

Pet owners are encouraged to break out the chew toys dogs and… Continue reading

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

Red Deer RCMP look for fraud suspect

Red Deer RCMP are looking for public assistance to identify a fraud… Continue reading

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month