WATCH ABOVE: City Council is being asked to write the premier and education minister about Gay-Straight Alliances. As Vinesh Pratap reports, the request comes from the Edmonton Youth Council.
EDMONTON – After a hearing the Edmonton Youth Council’s concerns about Bill 10, City Council unanimously passed endorsing the group’s stance on the provincial bill.
“I’m really proud to be an Edmontonian today,” said Claire Edwards, who’s a member of the Youth Council. “Council supported our opposition to Bill 10 and our calling on the provincial government to ask them to engage in consultation with youth.”
Edwards explained the Youth Council’s biggest issue with Bill 10 is that the legislation gives school boards the final say on the creation of GSAs in schools.
“I had no idea it would be unanimous, that’s really exciting.”
“All we came here for … initially was for them to forward our concerns on,” said Edwards. “We had no idea that they would publicly support our position.
“To me that shows that Edmonton is a city that is tired of intolerance and is ready to embrace the LGBTQ community and particularly its young people.”
Last Monday, the Youth Council took its concerns about Bill 10 — and how it will impact Gay-Straight Alliances — to City Hall and were surprised by the response. Members were at City Hall last Monday, asking for support from City Council, requesting that a letter be written to the premier and the education minister about their opposition to the bill.
Rules state that the Youth Council cannot advocate directly, but needs to get permission from City Hall to write a letter like this. However, the committee didn’t just approve the letter — it also put forward a motion that includes city council support for the Youth Council’s position.
“All we were asking for was for them to forward our concerns,” said Edwards last week.
“I had no idea that they were going to be so supportive and want to have their own position on the issue as well.”
“The city picks its battles,” said Mayor Don Iveson, “but certainly our young people are speaking up and saying this is an important one for them that they’d like to be heard at the legislature on.”
On Tuesday, councillors voted to throw their support behind the Youth Council on the issue.
The City of Edmonton Youth Council had a lengthy debate over the issue of Bill 10 late last year, specifically regarding the opposition to the bill. Around the same time MLAs were discussing the issue, so were members of the Youth Council.
However, there is speculation an early provincial election could take place. If that’s the case, the discussion on Bill 10 could be put aside temporarily.
*NOTE: This article was originally published on Jan. 19. It was updated on Jan. 27 when council voted unanimously to pass the motion.