Friday, April 11, 2014

Alberta Party supports gay-straight alliances

This was written by Greg Clark who is the leader of the Alberta Party. This post first appeared here.

by Greg Clark

The headlines ricochet around the world.

“Alberta MLAs vote against gay-straight alliance bill for schools”

“Gay-straight alliance bill for schools voted down in Alberta”

“Alberta Conservatives join Wildrose to defeat bill in 31-19 vote allowing gay-straight alliances in high schools”

These headlines, and the close-minded thinking that spawned them, are hurtful to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) teens in Alberta. They also perpetuate the outdated and flat-out wrong stereotype of Alberta as an intolerant place where only those who conform to some archaic notion of morality are considered acceptable.

The Alberta I know and love is a place not simply of tolerance, but a place of respect. Respect for all people irrespective of where they come from, the colour of their skin or who they love.

This reflects my Alberta, and I believe reflects the views of the vast majority of Albertans. It is also the right thing to do.

But there are still pockets of intolerance in the province and that’s why Motion 503 is so important. There should never be a barrier when students, in any school, of any faith, anywhere in the province, want to create a group proven to reduce bullying and promote inclusion. Gay-straight alliances are a powerful tool that provide a supportive environment for LGBTQ youth and their straight allies.

By rejecting Motion 503 the PC and Wildrose MLAs who voted against it (and the 36 MLAs –over 40% of the Legislature– who gave their tacit approval by choosing to be absent for the vote) sent a damaging message to LGBTQ teens, but also to the rest of the world about Alberta. An Alberta that desperately needs to attract people from around the world to drive our growing economy.

Defeating Motion 503 not only hurts LGBTQ teens. It might just hurt Alberta’s prosperity.

On the record, once and for all, the Alberta Party strongly supports GSA’s. It is completely consistent with our core values of inclusiveness, caring for one another and ensuring the safety of our most vulnerable, among which LGBTQ teens must be included. We believe that GSAs in school will actually save lives.

We have to ask, is there any reason that we would not want our children to feel safer in schools?

The Alberta Party represents an Alberta that is welcoming to all. It's the politicians that need to catch up.

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