Education Minister challenged: are new NDP gender “Guidelines” really voluntary?

CALGARY: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has challenged Alberta Education Minister David Eggen to elaborate on his claim that his new “Guidelines” will be voluntary for Alberta schools.  Released earlier this month, the Education Ministry’s “Guidelines” would require all schools in Alberta to:

  • accept “self-identification” as the sole measure of a child’s sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression;
  • allow boys to use the girls’ washrooms and change rooms, and to join the school’s girls’ sports teams, and other girls’ clubs and activities;
  • allow girls to use the boys’ washrooms and change rooms, and allow a girl to join the school’s boys’ sports teams, and other boys’ clubs and activities;
  • seek to eliminate the practice of having separate clubs, sports teams and other activities for boys and girls, and phase out the practice of separating students by gender;
  • phase out use of the words “father,” “mother,” “him”, “her”, “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and instead use “non-gendered” language.

In response to Minister Eggen’s public statement that the Guidelines are “voluntary”, the Justice Centre contacted the Minister on January 18 to inquire what this “voluntary” claim will mean for Alberta’s schools.  The Justice Centre’s follow-up letter, dated January 25, 2016 can be read here.

Alberta’s education system is the most diverse in Canada, featuring partial or full funding for a wide range of parental choices, including public schools, Catholic schools, independent schools, alternative schools, charter schools, and home-schooling.  Until the introduction and passage of Bill 10 in March of 2015, Alberta’s diverse schools and school boards enjoyed full autonomy in developing and implementing their own methods and strategies for creating a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment.

The Justice Centre’s letter to Education Minister David Eggen states, in part:

“Alberta’s religious schools seek written confirmation that your “Guidelines” truly are voluntary, such that no negative repercussions will ensue from non-compliance.  Will you provide an assurance, in writing, that a school or school board … will not risk decertification, defunding, or other consequences?”