Sex education coming next, says Calgary activist fighting 'dangerous' Bill 10
‘My mom is doing home schooling next year to get me away from it, so that is helping a bit,’ boy says
About 1,000 parents and activists protested Alberta's Bill 10 in Calgary on Saturday.
The bill, introduced in its current form in January, allows students to form gay-straight alliances and gives trans students the right to be accepted by the gender they identify with including pronouns, playing on sport teams and washroom use, among other changes.
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Supporters say the bill will make schools a safe place for all students by making bullying less acceptable.
But those who want to see the bill changed, say it could reduce communication between parents and children because a school does not have to inform parents if a student were to come out to a faculty member.
Kolbe Owen is eight years old. He says he wanted to protest the bill because "it is making me kind of, separated from my parents."
He says his family, including his six siblings, may have to take alternate measures if the bill is not changed.
"My mom is doing home-schooling next year to get me away from it, so that is helping a bit."
His dad, Martin Owen, is not happy.
"This issue affects our family in a profound way," he said.
"It is necessary to have clarification on communication between the school and the parents because [a lack of] it is not good for the health of the kids."
Another Calgary father, Assaad Sakr, also says it's about the parent-child connection.
"Parents need to know what's happening inside the school for our kids," Sakr explained.
"The guidelines are not good because they give all of the power to the kids. It's not good because kids need to have discussions with the parents."
After the bill was introduced, there was immediate backlash and support for it.
A prominent Calgary bishop slammed it, calling it totalitarian.
LGBTQ supporters praised it, saying it was long overdue.
It even played out online as a mother posted a song against it and a father answered her with a rap supporting it.
The previous Progressive Conservative government argued bitterly over an early version of the legislation in late 2014.
Mother of four, Chanele Bouchard, says she is scared of some of the provisions.
"I am afraid. A lot of bills that are passed … become precedents and I believe that this bill sets a very dangerous precedent of eliminating parents from the factor," Bouchard said.
"It is very dangerous to our children's well-being."
She wants to see it changed.
"I believe, along with all of these other parents, that there are amendments that need to be done with this bill so that this bill protects all students. We feel that this bill strips parental authority and strips parental rights from our children's education and that is very concerning to us."
Protest organizer Donna Trimble, says she believes the bill is only the first step in a larger agenda.
"We must say no to Bill 10 as it is written," Trimble told protesters.
"If we do not make our voices heard we will soon find comprehensive sexual education foisted on schools next. I am here to let you know that sexual education is undergoing a rewrite in the province of Alberta as we speak," she said.
"It is looking to be put in schools by 2017. There are individuals, activists, working with the government trying to push, to make sure that parents will not have the ability to opt in to comprehensive sexual education. That is the next step on this battle."
Trimble says her group, Parents for Choice in Education, wants to sit down with the government to offer suggestions and hopefully see some real change.
"As long as Bill 10 remains on the books as written, the government knows that is can continue to violate religious freedom, it can continue to violate parental rights and it can continue to violate the relationship that is sacred between parents and their children."
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With files from Julien Lecacheur