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Wildrose leader refutes report saying he flip-flopped on gay-straight alliances

Lockers and open classroom doors along a hallway in a high school. .
Lockers and open classroom doors along a hallway in a high school. . CP PHOTO/Don Denton

Alberta Wildrose Leader Brian Jean is refuting reports he is flip-flopping on the issue of clubs for gay and straight students in schools.

Jean, in a Facebook post, says he still believes that students, and not school officials, need to decide if parents are told when a child joins a gay-straight alliance.

“My views are that for a child struggling with his or her identity or sexuality, I believe they should not be forced to talk about it before they are ready.

“It is not any more appropriate for a school administrator to keep track of or report on a student’s sexuality than it would be for them to track and report their participation in a prayer meeting. These are issues parents and their children should discuss on their own terms,” Jean wrote.

Jean made those views clear earlier this week, but a new column in the Calgary Sun cites Jean as believing the opposite.

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Jean says the column was based on a written statement from him that was open to misinterpretation.

READ MORE: Wildrose Leader Brian Jean disagrees with PC Leader Jason Kenney on school clubs for gay students 

The alliances are for gay and straight students and are designed to be safe spaces for children who are struggling with their sexuality.

Advocates and the provincial government say telling parents without a child’s consent could put the child at risk of further harm.

“In my view, we don’t have any kind of obligatory notification process for kids being involved in the nutrition club or the botany club or the volleyball club or the yearbook club and nor should there be any conversation about any kind of mandatory notification about kids choosing to be friends with kids who are gay or questioning,” Premier Rachel Notley said Wednesday. “It’s that simple.

“The fact that the opposition parties are tying themselves in knots over this is because they don’t actually yet believe the things the vast majority of Albertans do on this issue.”

PC leader Jason Kenney was criticized for comments he made about GSAs and whether parents of children involved in the clubs should be made aware.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney slammed for comments about gay-straight alliances

“I’ve been a parent now for 18 years and I have never gotten a list from any school about all the clubs that exist in my school,” Notley continued. “So I’m not exactly sure why we would change that now. It would be lovely for schools to tell parents about all the clubs that are out there for their kids to think about joining but it certainly should not be obligatory or mandatory because of the nature of one particular club.”

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Posted by Brian Jean on Wednesday, April 5, 2017

With files from Emily Mertz, Global News