Calgary gay-straight alliance advocate believes court challenge could have big implications

WATCH ABOVE: Pam Krause, president and CEO of the Calgary-based Centre for Sexuality, joins Global Calgary to discuss the implications surrounding a court challenge to provincial gay-straight alliance legislation.

Gay-straight alliances (GSA) in Alberta schools are important to student safety, not secrecy, according to the president of a group that helps facilitate Calgary’s GSA network.

“The first thing that GSAs look at is how can youth be safe,” Pam Krause, president and CEO of the Calgary-based Centre for Sexuality, said Sunday on Global News Morning.

“If they’re not out to their parents, how can the GSAs, the teachers, the support systems around GSAs… help with that?”

GSAs are student-run groups that are meant to help LGBTQ students form a social network within their schools. In December 2017, legislation came into effect in Alberta that prevents schools from notifying parents if their child joins a GSA.

READ MORE: Eggen introduces legislation to ensure Alberta students who join GSAs aren’t outed

On Wednesday, a Medicine Hat court heard arguments on whether there should be an injunction against the provincial legislation. The group leading the court challenge is made up of faith-based schools and parents.

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Opponents of the legislation argue that the law amounts to keeping parents uninformed about what their children are doing. In a statement, the lawyer representing the group challenging the legislation said “it is unconstitutional to require schools to limit the information that is available to all parents,” given the variables surrounding GSAs.

READ MORE: ‘Climate of secrecy:’ Schools, parents dispute Alberta gay-straight alliance law

Krause, however, said it’s important to put GSAs into perspective.

“They’re clubs that are supporting youth who don’t necessarily feel comfortable coming out or don’t have a support system in place,” Krause said.

“Everybody needs to understand that this is about making sure that all students are part of safe and caring schools and that they grow up to be confident adults.”

The Centre for Sexuality was granted “intervenor status” in the case, which gives the group the chance to provide statistical and social evidence around the role of GSAs. The judge hearing the challenge is expected to issue a ruling in the coming days.