Edmonton·VOTE COMPASS

Most Albertans say parents shouldn't be notified when child joins GSA, online survey suggests

Most people think parents should not be notified when their children join gay-straight alliance groups at school, according to a recent survey of more than 74,000 people across the province.

More than 74,000 people shared their thoughts in the Vote Compass online questionnaire

Results from an online Vote Compass survey suggest the majority of Albertans think parents should not be notified when their children join gay-straight alliance groups. (Shutterstock)

Most people think parents should not be notified when their children join gay-straight alliance groups at school, according to a recent survey of more than 74,000 people across the province.

In the online questionnaire known as Vote Compass, Albertans were asked to vote on how much they agreed with the statement that said "parents should be informed if their child joins a gay-straight alliance group at school."

The online questionnaire suggests that 49 per cent of the respondents strongly disagreed and 14 per cent somewhat disagreed. Twelve per cent of the online voters strongly agreed with the statement.

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There were 74,624 respondents who participated in the Vote Compass online survey between March 20 and March 28.

Percentage of Vote Compass results. (Vox Pop Labs)

Overall, 56 per cent of women surveyed strongly disagreed with the statement, while 41 per cent of men disagreed. Sixteen per cent of men strongly agreed with the statement that parents should be informed, while nine per cent of women approved. 

In Edmonton, 60 per cent of participants said they wouldn't want parents to be notified. In Calgary, 54 per cent of the voters think parents should not be told about their child's participation in a GSA. Elsewhere in Alberta, 41 per cent of the voters disagreed with parental disclosure. 

Edmontonian Sarah McFarlane learned about the results on Friday and said she "100 per cent agrees" with the majority opinion.

"My daughter is gay and she came and told me, and she spoke to a school counselor," McFarlane said. "I'm glad she had the two advocates for her on her side."

For McFarlane, honouring the privacy of LGBTQ students is a matter of safety.

"If I was against [LGBTQ identification] and somebody came and told me, that would create a lot of friction at home," McFarlane said. "Kids in general need their home to feel like a safe place." 

Christina Borys, an Edmonton-based university student, agrees with McFarlane.

"It's a safety issue," Borys said. "We don't realize when you out someone without their consent to their parents, if their parents are not supportive, then that has so many repercussions."

She added she's surprised with the survey results because "Alberta always seems conservative." 

The results come after hundreds of people in both Calgary and Edmonton marched in support of GSAs last week.

The march comes after UCP Leader Jason Kenney defended his party's pledge last Tuesday to replace the NDP's amended school act, passed in November 2017, with the Education Act, a move that would remove the current prohibition on parental notification when children join GSAs.

Kenney has said a UCP government would leave it up to teachers to decide whether it was in the best interest of a child to tell parents about the child's involvement in a GSA.

The NDP government passed Bill 24 in November 2017, which amended the School Act and prohibited schools from telling parents if their children join a GSA.

Sex-ed curriculum

More than half of Albertans recently surveyed strongly agree that religious schools in Alberta should be forced to teach the provincial sex education curriculum.

The Vote Compass survey found that 53 per cent of Albertans said they strongly supported the statement, while 22 per cent of the people somewhat agree.

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But not everyone was in favour. Eight per cent of people who answered through Vote Compass strongly opposed religious schools being forced to teach a provincial sex-ed curriculum, while nine per cent of Albertans said they were neutral to the idea in the questionnaire.

When asked based on who they intended to vote for in this upcoming election, 30 per cent of participants who intend to vote for the UCP say they strongly support religious schools being forced to teach the province-wide curriculum. 

Vote Compass results, by percentage. (Vox Pop Labs)

Overwhelmingly, 71 per cent of the voters who are intending to vote for the NDP say they strongly agree with the statement, while 54 per cent of intended Alberta Party voters say they're strongly in favour of the statement.

Education Minister David Eggen slammed the curriculum submitted in 2017 by Alberta Catholic schools aimed at incorporating church teachings into sexual education in the classroom.

The Government of Alberta started to revamp the entire curriculum for Kindergarten to Grade 4 in 2016. It is expected to take six years to complete.

Kenney has said he would stop "the NDP's ideological rewrite" of the school curriculum if he becomes premier. But he has said that his government wouldn't change everything, if elected.

Methodology

Developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in Canada exclusively by CBC News. The findings above are based on 74,624 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from from March 20 to March 28.

Unlike opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not randomly selected. Vote Compass data have been weighted by geography, gender, age, educational attainment, occupation, religion, religiosity and civic engagement to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to census data and other population estimates.

Click here to find the detailed methodology.

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