Edmonton

Gay-straight alliances won't be allowed in Catholic schools, MLA says

Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman says the direction banning GSAs is coming from Catholic archbishops in Calgary and Edmonton.
Under the direction of Catholic archbishops in Calgary and Edmonton, Catholic school boards in Alberta are refusing to allow students to form gay-straight alliances, Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman says. (CBC)

Catholic school boards in Alberta are refusing to allow students to form gay-straight alliances, Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman says. 

Progressive Conservative MLA Sandra Jansen said on Tuesday’s Edmonton AM that some Alberta school boards were concerned about the student groups becoming mandatory if Blakeman's Bill 202 became law. 

Jansen declined to identify the boards, but Blakeman has learned that the direction on GSAs is coming from Catholic archbishops in Calgary and Edmonton.

“The investigation that we’ve done and the response that we saw, we were copied on the letters back to Minister Dirks, it’s the Catholic schools that won’t allow them,” she said.

Blakeman's request to meet with Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith about Bill 202 was turned down by his office. 

On Monday, the government introduced Bill 10, which effectively killed Blakeman’s bill. The government bill would compel students to take their school boards to court if they are prohibited from forming a GSA.

Bill 10 went to second reading on Tuesday. PC House Leader Jonathan Denis said he is invoking closure on the bill, which places limits on how long it can be debated.

“Realistically the debate can’t go on indefinitely,” Denis said.

He denied that Bill 10 was written quickly to kill Blakeman’s Bill 202. He said that there will be a free vote on Bill 10.

Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Thomas Lukaszuk said he plans to vote against Bill 10 in its present form.

“I don’t believe in bestowing human rights on  people in an incremental manner,” he said.

“If you believe it in it, if you believe that students should have it, then you should not set up legislative obstacles through which they have to get through to get it.”

If amendments came forward that made the bill close to what Blakeman was proposing, Lukaszuk said he would likely vote in favour.

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