REGINA – A Saskatchewan teen says her request for a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at her high school was denied.
Olivia Carr, a grade 12 student at Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon, says she was told a social justice group, where students can discuss world issues, could serve as a GSA instead.
“A lot of (gay and lesbian) students don’t really feel at place at our school and I feel like a GSA would help people to feel more accepted and be able to be honest with who they are,” Carr said.
Gay-straight alliances, also known as gender and sexuality alliances, are essentially support and activism groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.
Much of the debate at the Saskatchewan legislature this week focused on GSAs, as the Opposition NDP have been pushing a private members’ bill that would make them a legal right.
On Thursday, the NDP attempted to fast-track Bill 612 through an emergency motion that was denied.
“By putting it in law, it chisels in stone and empowers those students to make sure they’re making decisions that are safe for them,” said NDP leader Cam Broten. “It also helps principals and teachers know this is the right thing to do.”
The government says no school has refused to provide a GSA and legislation should be a last-resort.
“We’re going to find out, because the ministry is contacting school boards and our education partners and if they’re not prepared to follow policy, then we’ll have to consider legislation,” said Premier Brad Wall.
Wall believes the current policy is more forceful than the bill proposed by the NDP.
Education Minister Don Morgan told reporters earlier in the week that any school not supporting a student’s request could suffer a funding cut as a result.
Alberta’s former Progressive Conservative government came under fire for fighting GSA legislation for a year before passing a bill this past spring.