Hundreds of Alberta teachers, students attend gay-straight alliance conference

WATCH ABOVE: New policies are being developed to protect LGBTQ students and staff. This weekend, hundreds of Albertans are gathering in Calgary to find a way to strengthen gay-straight alliances and make sure they last. Jayme Doll reports.

Hundreds of teachers and students gathered at the University of Calgary Saturday to discuss ways to strengthen gay-straight alliances in an effort to help protect LGBTQ students and staff.

“They’re learning about-what does it mean to be an ally? They’re learning about-what does human rights mean in the province of Alberta?” said Kris Wells, a local educator and advocate for the LGBTQ community.

The conference comes in the wake of a major victory for gay-straight alliances, after the controversial Bill 10 was amended to allow students access to the clubs in both public and Catholic schools. By spring 2016, Alberta’s 61 school boards will need to have written regulations in support of GSAs in place.

“Our government is in full support to ensure that they can set up GSAs and that we have safe, caring schools that have no discrimination based on sexuality here in the province,” said Minister of Education David Eggen.

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Students who experienced discrimination in the past said the recent transformation in attitudes is evident.

“For myself, I wasn’t involved at all in gay politics or anything like that when I was in high school,” said Michael Connolly, MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood. “I was much more quiet and trying to show people I was more macho and not gay.”

A new coordinator will be tasked with making sure all Albertans are aligned on the new policies.

“That coordinator will go around the province and communities to coordinate efforts around inclusion,” said Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir.

More details on the new GSA coordinator role are expected in the coming weeks.

For more information on the GSA conference at the University of Calgary, click here.