Students from Lethbridge Collegiate Institute in Lethbridge are calling on the Alberta government to listen as they left their classrooms Friday morning in protest of proposed changes to gay-straight alliances (GSAs) at the province’s schools.
More than 30 LCI students joined the provincewide walkout in protest of proposed policy changes to GSAs.
The walkout stems from Premier Jason Kenney’s proposal to replace the previous government’s School Act. The current School Act allows students to set up and take part in GSA clubs without parents being informed, however the new act could include allowing teachers to use their own judgement about informing parents if their child joins a GSA.
“Schools, especially, should be a place where people feel comfortable to express themselves and be who they are, which definitely isn’t where we’re at right now,” Aborawi said.
“GSAs are a safe space. They’re known for being for kids who are closeted or afraid to come out. It’s where they’re safe, and they don’t have to be afraid of who they are,” another student added. “But if you’re telling their parents then it’s not a safe place anymore and you’re getting rid of the whole reason why we had (them) in the first place.”
Students from Chinook High School in Lethbridge also took part in the 20-minute protest, uniting with thousands of other students across the province in the movement.
Kenney, who’s currently in Toronto, reacted to the student-led walkout on Friday.
“It’s great to see young people taking an active interest in issues. I’d suggest (it’s) better for them to do rallies or protests after school hours and not during them,” the premier said.
“We want to make sure people are actually learning in class instead of doing politics.”
In an emailed statement, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said: “Our government has been very clear: we do not support mandatory parental notification or ‘outing’ of any student.”
She added: “As minister, I do want to meet with passionate, young Albertans to understand their concerns and clarify any misunderstandings about our position.”
But for Aborawi, this reassurance isn’t enough.
“The youth are not afraid to come out and talk. We are not going to be scared by some politicians; we want to address the problem and we’re going to be the ones to fix it,” the student said.