Edmonton

Alberta education minister could defund Baptist school board defying LGBTQ law

Education Minister David Eggen said he has not ruled out defunding a Christian school board if it doesn't comply with legislation on gay-straight alliances.

David Eggen said withdrawing funding is one option if board refuses to comply with GSA legislation

On Friday, Eggen sent a letter to the board chair of the Baptist Christian Education Society demanding written assurance that GSAs will be allowed at its two Edmonton schools. (CBC)

Education Minister David Eggen says he has not ruled out defunding a Christian school board that has refused to comply with legislation on gay-straight-alliances.

"Absolutely," Eggen told CBC News on Monday. "It's one of the options."

On Friday, Eggen sent a letter to the board chair of the Baptist Christian Education Society demanding written assurance that GSAs will be allowed at its two Edmonton schools, as required under the School Act.

Pastor Brian Coldwell has until Sept. 16. to respond.

I just wanted the school and the pastor to know the gravity of the situation.- David Eggen, Alberta Education Minister

"I just wanted the school and the pastor to know the gravity of the situation," said Eggen, adding withdrawing funds is just one option. 

"We're talking about the welfare of children and school so it's very important to try to work something out that is sensible."

He said a review of other aspects of board's policy are ongoing but provincial guidelines are not legally binding. 

Last week, Coldwell told CBC News he would not allow "gay activists" to undermine the Society's ministries, religious freedoms or "confuse and corrupt our children."

Meanwhile, Eggen said an initial review of the Edmonton Catholic school board's LGBTQ policy has raised more questions that are now being addressed by his department, but would not provide specifics.

Over the weekend, critics raised a number of concerns with the "Inclusive Communities policy submitted by Edmonton Catholic schools.

They said the policy still fails to protect LGBTQ students and allows the teachings of the Edmonton Catholic church to prevail over human rights.

andrea.huncar@cbc.ca    

@andreahuncar

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