Alberta’s education minister says that any schools not complying with the province’s gay-straight alliance legislation by the end of the month could lose their funding.
As of Tuesday, Eggen said there were still 61 schools that have not properly complied with Bill 24, which passed in the fall of 2017.
The legislation ensures all schools have policies for gay-straight alliances, and that students who join the social clubs are not outed to their parents without their permission. GSAs are meant to make LGBTQ kids feel welcome and prevent bullying and abuse.
As of Tuesday, 97 per cent of Alberta schools already had policies in place.
“All the public schools, all the Catholic schools, all the charter schools have built excellent policies that ensure a safe and caring environment for everybody,” Eggen said.
All of the schools that have not put policies in place are private schools, according to Eggen, who said he is committed to working with them on policies.
“These private schools take public money, they have to follow the rules just like everybody else,” he said, adding private schools receive up to 70 per cent of their funding from the province.
Earlier this year, a group of Alberta parents and schools filed a court application, challenging the constitutionality of the School Act provisions of Bill 24.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said the main concern is “the requirement that prohibits principals and teachers from notifying parents about student organizers or activities.” The applicants include 26 faith-based schools in Alberta and 10 individuals.
The JCCF had also requested an injunction until a ruling was made on the law’s constitutionality. That request was denied by an Alberta judge in June.
JCCF president John Carpay said Tuesday the organization is appealing that decision.
“The constitutionality of the legislation is before the courts and here he (Eggen) is threatening to defund and de-accredit schools for asserting their charter rights. This is bullying and intimidation,” Carpay said.
“The minister is going to the media claiming the schools are not compliant and at the same time he’s not telling the schools specifically in what way he believes that they are not compliant.”
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Education said all schools that received a letter stating their policy was not compliant have already received or will be receiving feedback shortly from Alberta Education outlining the changes that need to be made.
“It is the government’s expectation that all school authorities in Alberta will obey the law when it comes to providing safe spaces for students wishing to form or join gay-straight alliances,” read a statement issued to Global News on Tuesday.
Carpay said if the province pulls funding from the schools, they will head back to court.