Edmonton

Parent notification only for explicit LGBTQ classroom discussion

Critics say parents need to know what their children are learning in the classroom

Alberta Teachers' Association

The Alberta Teachers' Association is distributing this toolkit to help teachers foster inclusivity in the classroom. (Alberta Teachers' Association)

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The Alberta Teachers' Association says parents will only be notified of LGBTQ classroom discussions if the subject matter deals "primarily and explicitly" with sexuality and religion.

"If the lesson was specifically about sexual and gender minorities, then notification would need to be sent and parents could opt out of that," said Andrea Berg, head of the association's human rights division, explaining consent is required under the School Act.

"But a lot of these instances, the topics will be coming up spontaneously and they won't be necessarily explicit and primarily about sexual and gender minorities."

Donna Trimble

Donna Trimble with Parents for Choice in Education says parents must know what is taught in the classroom. (CBC)

Berg was addressing concerns raised by some critics as the ATA prepares to distribute a new "toolkit" for teaching LGBTQ issues to schools this month. The document, developed internally, is aimed at helping teachers cultivate inclusivity in their classrooms.

The 150-page resource guide called the "Prism Toolkit for Safe and Caring Discussions" contains an LGBTQ glossary, a legal framework and lesson plans for students from Grades 7-12 on subjects such as religion, biology and math.

"Parents must know what is taught in the classroom so they can support learning at home and clear up confusions," said Donna Trimble, executive director of Parents for Choice in Education.

"This lesson plan is a contradiction to many faith perspectives and therefore not acceptable to all families in our pluralistic society," Trimble added. "And the right of parents to opt out should not be diminished by the integration of such lessons across the curriculum."

Some critics have raised concerns over a number of proposals in the toolkit such as using drag shows as a learning tool in schools or switching to gender neutral pronouns like "comrades" and "folks" instead of "boys" and "girls".

On social media, Edmontonians shared their views about using gender neutral pronouns with Edmonton AM radio host Mark Connolly.  While some said it went too far, many praised it as a way to further inclusion for sexual and gender minorities.

 

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