Bill 24 support rally draws hundreds to the McDougall Centre in Calgary
Bill 24 would make it illegal for schools to notify parents when students join gay-straight alliances
More than 200 people gathered in front of the McDougall Centre in Calgary on Sunday to show support for Bill 24.
If passed, it will ensure students who join a gay-straight alliances (GSA) in an Alberta school are not outed to their parents by teachers or staff.
Fourteen-year-old Charley Frost and her mom, Amanda, made the short drive from Airdrie to be at the event.
Charley belongs to a GSA at her school and says if Bill 24 doesn't go through, she would feel tense in the club.
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"I wouldn't feel as OK being myself," she said.
The NDP introduced Bill 24 earlier this month, which would make it illegal for teachers or staff to notify the parents of a child who joins a GSA.
GSAs are after-school clubs where LGBTQ and straight students can talk and hang out together in a safe space.
They are seen as a way for students who are struggling with their sexuality to get peer support — especially for those who don't feel safe talking to their parents.
The issue of GSAs has been a contentious one since 2015, when Bill 10 was passed, calling for them to be made mandatory in all schools.
Earlier this year, before becoming leader of the United Conservative Party, Jason Kenney said parents should be notified if their child joins a GSA, unless that puts them at risk.
Lindsay Peace, co-founder of the Skipping Stone Foundation and one of the organizers of Sunday's rally, says the ongoing debate is the reason why the event was important.
"In all of these conversations, nobody is talking to [the students] and nobody is making space for them to talk," she said.
"People are talking about them and people are assuming things about them but nobody's talking to them and in lots of situations it's not even safe for them. We need to help create that space for kids to feel safe to speak."
The bill still needs to pass a third reading before becoming law.
With files from Terri Trembath and Julien Lecacheur