Albertans ‘Twitter bomb’ premier and education minister over LGBTQ policy

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen announces the appointment of an advisor to oversee Edmonton Catholic Schools, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015.
Alberta Education Minister David Eggen announces the appointment of an advisor to oversee Edmonton Catholic Schools, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Dave Carels, Global News

EDMONTON – Albertans who oppose the province’s new education guidelines are using social media to try to get their message across to the government, but the group’s #protectABkids hashtag is also being used by those who support the policy in question.

On Tuesday, a group said 1,000 Albertans will “Twitter bomb” Minister of Education David Eggen and Premier Rachel Notley to show their opposition of the “Guidelines to Best Practices” document established by the education minister.

“We’ve written our letters and we’ve called our MLAs, but we don’t feel our collective voice is being heard. In fact, we feel Minister Eggen has dismissed, misrepresented and minimized our concerns as Albertans,” Theresa Ng, an Edmonton mother who helped organize the social media event, said.

READ MORE: Eggen believes Alberta Catholic schools will cooperate on LGBTQ policy

Organizers of the social media campaign said they’ll tweet the same message to Eggen and Notley, using the hashtag #protectABkids.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are advocating for a more thoughtful, balanced approach that considers respect for the diversity, safety and well-being of all children in our Alberta schools,” Ng said.

“We believe there are more effective ways of addressing the needs of the LGBTQ community while also ensuring a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment for all students.”

Donna Trimble, a Calgary mother, said her concerns with the guidelines centre around parental rights.

“The Alberta government has become confused about its role and placed itself in the position of caregiver, which has thus led to guidelines that remove parents from their rightful position as the primary caregivers of their children. This will not help students, it will harm them.”

READ MORE: Calgary bishop slams LGBTQ rules; calls Alberta NDP ‘anti-Catholic‘ 

The group is asking the education minister to stop the mandatory requirement for school boards to develop LGBTQ-specific policies. The group would rather school boards use their own judgement regarding any policy regarding LGBTQ students.

Eggen said the guidelines were meant to help school boards see how LGBTQ rights have been dealt with across Canada and throughout the world, in order for them to be in a better place to draft their own policies.

Story continues below advertisement

“What the school boards must do is make sure there’s policy there that reflects that, but it doesn’t have to be exhaustive like the guidelines,” Eggen said.

“It’s very important for us to remember that this is an educative process that we’re going through as well, and as we have this interaction I know that it will help for people to clarify that we’re not looking to diminish in any way anyone else’s human rights.”

While the hashtag #protectABkids was initially used to Twitter bomb the province, a number of LGBTQ advocates and supporters took to the social media network to turn the conversation around, in support of the policy.

Eggen has issued a March 31 deadline for Alberta’s 61 school boards to develop policies on how they will protect LGBTQ students. He said he’s already received draft policies from about one third of the province’s school boards.