Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Wildrose and PCs vote against supporting Gay-Straight Alliances in schools where children want them

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Liberal MLA Kent Hehr's Motion 503 which called for schools to support the establishment of Gay-Straight alliances to help protect children from bullying and discrimination was defeated in the Alberta Legislature Monday.

The final vote saw the motion lose 31 to 19. Every Liberal and NDP MLA supported the motion with some PC MLAs. However, the majority of PCs and all Wildrose MLAs voted against the motion. (37 MLAs didn't show up for the vote)

I have four points:

1. Gay-Straight Alliances save children's lives by reducing bullying and suicide attempts. Gay-Straight Alliances create safe places for children to organize, empower, educate and protect each other from discrimination against their sexual orientation. They make schools safer for children. The Alberta Party has come out strongly in favour of Gay-Straight Alliances.  Watch PC MLA Sandra Jansen's remarkable speech on Gay-Straight Alliances:


2. Gay-Straight Alliances put children first. There isn't an MLA in Alberta who would disagree with putting children first. The PCs and Wildrose alike have boasted that they put children first and highlight the freedom to choose as a distinguished and important feature of Alberta's education system. 

The Wildrose specifically claim that they respect individuality and want to empower local autonomy. To be clear, Motion 503 only mandated Gay-Straight Alliances in schools where students want them. A vote for Motion 503 would have put students first by empowering them with the freedom to choose Gay-Straight Alliances

A vote against Motion 503 is a vote for the status quo where individual children who want Gay-Straight Alliances to protect themselves and others from bullying can and are rejected by centralized authorities.

When it comes to Gay-Straight Alliances, Education Minister Jeff Johnson claims that he doesn't want to interfere with school boards because he respects their local autonomy -- but when it comes to collective bargaining, he has no trouble hijacking school board's local autonomy with with legislation.

Alberta's Education Minister Jeff Johnson


3. Gay-Straight Alliances don't single out any single specific group of students any more than efforts to support First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) students. For the MLAs who defend their vote against Motion 503 because it unfairly singles out one specific group of students, I have one question:
Do you reject Alberta's recent efforts to specifically support First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) students because it unfairly singles out a specific group of students?
Of course not.

No one would say that they value all sports so schools should not give special attention to individual sports like basketball or that school should value all subjects so we shouldn't give special attention to individual subjects like math.

Sometimes people say they value everything so they don't have to take a stand on anything.

Voting against Motion 503 because you want to protect all students from bullying, not just some, might make some politicians look good because they won't tolerate any bullying -- but it represents a hollow promise to children who would be safer with Gay-Straight Alliances in schools where the adults won't allow them.

4. The Wildrose are still morally bankrupt. It's true that the majority of PCs voted against Motion 503 and they most certainly need to be challenged individually, but because every single Wildrose MLA voted against Gay-Straight Alliances, the entire Wildrose party needs to be challenged.

I can't help but remember Alberta's 2012 election when Wildrose MLA hopeful Allen Hunsperger spawned his comments about gay people burning in a lake of fire and that public education is godless, wicked and profane for putting into place anti-bullying policies to protect children from being targeted for their sexual orientation.

As shameful as Hunsperger's hateful comments are, I hold a special distaste for Danielle Smith's refusal to condemn her party's candidate. That Smith retreats to the party line that "the Wildrose will not introduce legislation on contentious social issues" is nothing more than silence as assent.

On Monday, April 7, 2014, the Wildrose's unanimous opposition to Motion 503 shows Albertans that nothing has changed with the Wildrose. 

The Wildrose are still morally bankrupt and intellectually indefensible.


2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this well written article and agree with the points made. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why not just put in place programs that fight bullying in general and then avoid forcing religious institutions to violate their consciences?

    ReplyDelete

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