Alberta education minister demands Baptist school board comply with LGBTQ legislation

Alberta's minister of education is demanding a Baptist school board comply with government legislation regarding gay and queer-straight alliances

David Eggen sent pastor Coldwell a letter on Friday demanding written assurance

Education Minister David Eggen said the government is working to keep up with surging enrolment rates. (CBC)

Alberta's minister of education is demanding a Baptist school board comply with government legislation regarding gay and queer-straight alliances.

The requirement comes after pastor Brian Coldwell — chair of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society — told CBC News earlier this week that he would not comply with the government's guidelines and legislation. He also accused the minister of wielding "dictatorial power" on the issue of LGBTQ rights.

CBC News was provided with a letter sent from Minister David Eggen to Coldwell on Friday.

In it, Eggen writes that Alberta Education conducted a preliminary review of the Independent Baptist's policy submission regarding GSAs. Eggen said that what he found in that submission, and paired with recent statements Coldwell has given to the media, gave him "serious concern" about the board's "intent to comply with all applicable legislation." 

I have serious concerns about your board's intent to comply with Section 16.1.- David Eggen

In the letter, Eggen said that as a result of these concerns he is demanding that the board provide him with a written assurance of their intent to comply with all legislation, including section 16.1 (the section regarding GSAs and QSAs in the School Act.) He requires the written assurance to him by Sept. 16.

"As minister of education, one of my top priorities is ensuring that all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity, are provided with safe and caring learning environments," Eggen wrote in the letter.

Independent Baptist Christian Education Society board chair Brian Coldwell said LGBTQ policy won't be implemented at two Parkland County schools.

On Tuesday, Coldwell said "I have a duty as a pastor to protect the flock of God. 

"And there is no way under heaven I'm going to allow gay activists to come in here and basically undermine our ministries and our religious freedoms or confuse and corrupt our children."

His comments set off a firestorm and prompted many — including leader of the Alberta Liberal Party David Swann — to call for the board's funding to be pulled.

Eggen vowed Thursday to "aggressively pursue" schools that don't follow the policy.

The letter does not specify what would happen if the pastor does not comply.

With files from Andrea Huncar