Mr. Fraser: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Alberta Party caucus is fully supportive of GSAs in schools and a student’s right to privacy and safety in joining. Recent reports that a child was taken off school grounds by an adult not affiliated with the school without the parents’ awareness have raised some questions, though. We need to be clear. A student’s right to privacy is intended to ensure their safety, not circumvent existing protections. To the Minister of Education: how is your department going to ensure that any visitor coming into a school has to register with the front office, and can you explain how that policy was overlooked in recent reports regarding GSAs?
Mr. Eggen: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you very much for the question. We know that GSAs are an important part of our schools. GSAs help to save lives in schools. We also need to know that there’s a separation between the GSAs and the policy that we built here and field trip policy and so forth. It’s my expectation that schools and school boards follow field trip policy to the fullest extent that they have built that policy and that we make sure that kids are safe every step of the way. That is what we’re here for, and that’s what we will continue to do.
Mr. Fraser: Thank you, Minister.
GSAs are a vital peer-to-peer support group for young people struggling with bullying and/or acceptance, and the right to privacy is necessary to assure participants that actually it’s safe to participate. We also need to be aware that there must be reasonable limits placed upon what activities are appropriate when parents aren’t being informed, especially activities that take place off school grounds. To the same minister: is your ministry considering the development of standardized policies around GSAs, what activities are acceptable, and what activities are not appropriate without parental notification?
The Speaker: The hon. minister.
Mr. Eggen: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As we all know here, GSAs are support clubs in schools. As I said in my last answer, field trips are a separate issue that has to be dealt with, a separate policy. Schools and school boards have those policies in place. It’s very important, the confidentiality of students in GSAs. The idea of outing kids who join GSAs goes against the very grain of what they are supposed to be as a safe and caring place. Anyone who suggests that kids should be outed in a GSA doesn’t understand and, in fact, is hurting the basic idea and the kids that are in a GSA in the first place.
Mr. Fraser: Minister, six months ago I asked a very heartfelt question about how your government is working with families of LGBTQ children and those who are supportive and those who are just not there yet. To the same minister: can you point to one specific example of how you’re working with school boards to foster an open sharing of LGBTQ students along with their parents and families?
The Speaker: The hon. minister.
Mr. Eggen: Thank you. Good question, and I thank the hon. member for his assistance on this matter. I’m very proud to say that all public school boards in the province of Alberta, all Catholic schools, all francophone schools, all charter schools, and the vast majority of private schools have built their own safe and caring policies, with faith-based principles built right into them if they chose to do so. I’m so proud of that process that we’ve gone through over these last three and a half years. But I also must say, Mr. Speaker, that if you take public money for schools here in the province of Alberta, you must follow the law just like anybody else.