Nfld. & Labrador

Education department promoting gay-straight alliances

Newfoundland and Labrador's education department is set to announce plans to help schools across the province create safe, welcoming environments for gay students.
Education Minister Clyde Jackman speaking with reporters in early 2011. ((CBC))

Newfoundland and Labrador's education department is set to announce plans to help schools across the province create safe, welcoming environments for gay students.

"There will soon be a new teacher resource in Grades 7 to12 entitled My Gay-Straight Alliance (MyGSA)," said Minister Clyde Jackman in an email to CBC from the education department.

"MyGSA will provide support for administrators, teachers and students who wish to establish gay-straight alliances in schools."

The minister’s statement said the program will complement work that has already been done to fight homophobia.

"MyGSA will complement efforts to date, through the provincial safe and caring schools policy, to provide understanding and support for students of different sexual orientations," he said.

The new program, funded through the Provincial Government’s Violence Prevention Initiative, led by the Women’s Policy Office, and developed in partnership with local representatives of EGALE Canada, will be delivered to schools spring 2012.

The statement from the department said there is no intention on the part of the education department to "mandate" gay-straight alliances within schools.

"While we are not mandating that schools establish gay-straight alliances, we are certainly encouraging it. This resource will assist schools to do so, if they wish. That said, I want to be clear that the protection and support of students of different sexual orientations is not negotiable," said Jackman.

"The education system is responsible for ensuring the protection of all students – and these students, in particular, are often the most vulnerable to bullying and harassment."