LGBT advocates march in Saskatoon for more resources in schools

Organizers of the march say more Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are needed in public schools to ensure LGBT students are supported and safe. They want the Government of Saskatchewan to be able to mandate GSAs if a student asks for one at their place of learning.

People marched up and down Broadway Avenue on Saturday morning

Chandra McIvor wants new provincial legislation that would mandate Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in all schools. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

People dressed in bright colours carried rainbow umbrellas and signs that read 'GSAs in all schools' and 'support our kids' as they marched up Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon Saturday morning.

Chandra McIvor is an advocate for youth and allied educators and organized the event.

For some kids its literally the only reprieve they may have from bullying.- Chandra McIvor

She said they want the provincial government to take action to support LGBT students in public schools, including Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).

"We want to see legislation which mandates that GSAs are allowed in all schools," McIvor said. "If a student says 'I want a GSA in my school', there is a government action for that to occur."

Typically GSAs are student-led organizations that provide LGBT students with a safe, accepting place to go.

According to McIvor there is currently no legislation in Saskatchewan that stipulates if a students asks for a GSA, they must be accommodated. She said the decision as to whether one is created is left up to the principal and administration of each school.

More education needed

Benjamin Lindsay wants more LGBT education and resources in schools to help transgender kids have a better experience than he did. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Benjamin Lindsay, a transgender person, came to the march on Saturday. Lindsay said he wants more education and resources in schools so that other trans kids will have a better experience than he did.

"I think it would have made me more comfortable with who I am, earlier in my life," Lindsay said of resources like GSAs, which were not available to him when he attended high school in Saskatoon. "I was unsure of who was accepting and who was not."

I was unsure of who was accepting and who was not.- Benjamin Lindsay

Lindsay said he took a Life Transitions class at his high school, hoping to learn more about LGBT issues, but didn't get the information he was looking for.

He said the extent of the discussion on diverse sexual realities for teenagers started and ended with a class screening of the film Juno —which focuses on a teenage girl's pregnancy.

"Its not really being taught in school at all, even in a class that is supposed to be for sex education," Lindsay stated. "It's really too bad."

McIvor said she hopes the issue of mandating GSAs will be raised when the Legislature is back in session on October 22.

"All students deserve an anti-oppressive school environment," McIvor said. "For some kids its literally the only reprieve they may have from bullying ... literally where they go to eat lunch and feel safe for an hour."

People carried signs as they marched on Broadway Avenue. (Madeline Kotzer, CBC News)