EDMONTON – Alberta school boards have just 10 days remaining before they are required to deliver their LGBTQ policies to the province.
Twenty of the province’s 61 school boards had delivered a policy as of Wednesday, according to Education Minister David Eggen.
“Everyone is compelled to follow the letter of the law. There is no compromise in that regard, and it’s very important that we have proper symmetry between the legislation in the province and each school board’s policy as well,” Eggen said.
At the request of school boards, the province has already provided them with a set of guidelines to follow. The guidelines include what LGBTQ students can wear, what sports they can play and which washrooms they can use.
Eggen has been asked questions about the guidelines, including from Westwind School Division Chair Ron Fromm.
Similar to positions on the matter recently taken by the Edmonton Catholic School Division and Fort Vermilion School Division, the Westwind School Division’s policy appears to take a broad stance against discrimination of any kind and doesn’t specifically mention gay-straight alliances, something LGBTQ advocates say is critical in formulating policies.
Fromm told Global News Eggen told him the guidelines themselves were simply that, and not required to be followed exactly.
“I told him (Fromm) that the guidelines are a way by which they can build their policy,” Eggen said. “And no one’s policy can be outside provincial legislation and law.”
“Yes, we do want to respect religious freedom but no one is exempt from being ensured that they are in compliance with the law.”
Once the school boards’ policies are submitted, the minister will review them but it still isn’t clear whether broad policies like those formulated by the Westwind School Division and Fort Vermilion School Division will be accepted.
The guidelines specify that transgender students be allowed to use the washroom of their choice, depending on their gender or on whether they perceive themselves to be a girl or a boy.
The guidelines also state that transgender students be allowed to dress based on that same principle and play on sports teams they feel align with their sexuality.