Saskatchewan

Gay-straight alliances subject of debate in Saskatchewan

Pink Shirt Day has come and gone in Saskatchewan schools, but the debate over gay-straight alliances in the schools continues.

While politicians spar, Regina student tries to launch group

Halla Scott, a Grade 11 student at a Regina Catholic school, says it hasn't been easy trying to launch a gay-straight alliance. (Nichole Huck/CBC)

Pink Shirt Day has come and gone in Saskatchewan schools, but the debate over gay-straight alliances in the schools continues.

Last week, many schools and students participated in anti-bullying events, symbolized by the wearing of pink shirts.

The Day of Pink turned into a debate at the Saskatchewan legislature, with the NDP Opposition saying the government could do more to fight homophobia.

Wall, Broten square off

NDP leader Cam Broten said the government should put helpful information about gay-straight alliances on the Education Ministry's website.

These are high school groups that hold assemblies and other events designed to end discrimination against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

Many schools participated in the Day of Pink last week to highlight anti-bullying efforts. (CBC)

Premier Brad Wall said the government would not stand in the way of such groups forming, but also said the government has to be concerned about the freedom of religion in Saskatchewan.

Wall and Broten were back at it again the next day, with Broten saying the government has downplayed homophobia while Wall accused Broten of "politicizing the issue in a very partisan way."

Regina student trying to launch alliance

Meanwhile, one Regina Catholic school student has come forward to say she's trying to start a "gay-straight alliance" but isn't getting much support from her school.

Halla Scott, who's in Grade 11 at LeBoldus High School, said the school hasn't said no, but it hasn't exactly embraced the idea of starting a gay-straight alliance.

She said a guidance counsellor suggested her idea might go against Catholic values.

"It's funny ... the main Catholic value is to treat your neighbour as you want to be treated," she said. "If that's true, wouldn't you want to treat your LBGTQ [lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer] neighbour the same way as you'd like to be treated?"

She said if the group got the green light to proceed, students would support it.

"It would provide support to LGBTQ students in the school and also, you know, help squash some stereotypes that some people hold about students that identify that way," she said.

Not opposed to alliances, school division says

The Regina Catholic school division says it has no policy against gay-straight alliance groups.

Miles Meyers, the co-ordinator of Catholic education services with the Regina system, said Catholics are called to show support against any form of discrimination, including against gay people.

He said he regrets that any student might feel he or she is not getting the support they want.

However, there are no gay-straight alliance groups in any Catholic schools in Regina.

A spokesperson for Saskatoon's Catholic school system said one school has an "active club" for students who feel marginalized, but also said the schools would be open to having more if students expressed an interest.