It's been a hot topic in Alberta for years, but comedian Rick Mercer brought the ongoing debate about gay-straight alliances in schools to a national audience this week in his latest rant.
He said the United Conservative Party's opposition to Bill 24 — legislation that would make it illegal for publicly-funded schools to inform parents if their children join gay-straight alliances — could be dangerous for teens unsure of their sexuality.
The bill passed third and final reading in the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday.
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"This is all about outing young people, and it is serious," said Mercer, who has ranted in the past about a lack of support for gay teens facing bullying in schools countrywide.
In this week's rant for the Mercer Report, he looked back at his childhood.
"When I was a teenager, I didn't know a single gay dude," he said. "As far as I was concerned, I was the only gay dude in 100 miles in every direction."
Mercer said that's a "very difficult" situation for a young person, and there was no option to join a GSA club.
"Thank God we had the drama club, which basically was the same thing," he joked.
UCP Leader Jason Kenney said his MLAs would oppose Bill 24. He said he wants to keep the status quo that gives teachers and principals some latitude to talk to parents if necessary.
"Teachers, not politicians, should decide when it makes sense to engage parents," he said last week. "The unique circumstances of each child should be the key factor, not the blunt instrument of law."
Kenney once opposed same-sex marriage
Mercer said the former MP may have been surprised Alberta has had GSA clubs for years after his return to the province, but parents would never be notified if they joined the school newspaper or improv club.
He also pointed to the fact that Kenney made a name for himself opposing same-sex marriages while in Ottawa.
"We're talking about the olden days — way back in 2005," he ranted. "And for a fella like Jason — the epitome of old-school masculinity — the notion of two fellas getting married was enough to give him the vapours. And lesbians, that's the stuff of Jason's nightmares."
Mercer said anyone with the potential to become Alberta's next premier should not be crusading against a student's choice about when they come out to their parents.
"Jason — stop it. Stick to playground rules. Pick on someone your own size."
A request for comment from Jason Kenney's office about Mercer's latest rant referred CBC News to a statement made Nov. 7.
My statement on Bill 24. We believe educators know better than politicians how to protect the best interests of kids https://t.co/YazWEHIeoX— @jkenney