Law Matters John Carpay

Law Matters John Carpay

Supporters of mandatory gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in schools want to have their cake and eat it too. On the one hand, they insist that GSAs are merely peer support groups and harmless social clubs, which do not indoctrinate kids into any political or sexual agenda. On the other hand, they object to parents being notified if their kids are exposed to sexual content in student clubs or other extra-curricular activities.

In Alberta, Progressive Conservative MLA Ric McIver, is one example. At a provincial conservative party convention in early May, McIver spoke rather hysterically against the resolution: “The United Conservative Party believes that the Government of Alberta should reinstate parental opt-in consent for any subjects of a religious or sexual nature, including enrollment in extracurricular activities/clubs or distribution of any instructional materials/resources related to these topics.” If it’s true that GSAs are harmless social clubs which do not show children anything of a sexual nature, then this resolution clearly does not apply to GSAs.

The resolution requires parental consent only for “subjects of a religious or sexual nature,” nothing else. Yet McIver claimed this resolution was about “outing gay kids,” and added that anyone who supported the resolution “disagrees with people being gay.” After McIver and two other MLAs spoke against the resolution, it passed with 57 per cent support.

Whether accidental or deliberate, the confusion over GSAs is widespread.

The Huffington Post ran a column by MacEwan University professor Junaid Jahangir, who presented a very inaccurate picture of the constitutional challenge to Alberta’s Bill 24.

Filed in April 2018, the case against Bill 24 was brought by a coalition of Jewish, Christian, and Sikh schools, as well as individual parents with children in public, private, and Catholic schools. Bill 24 makes it illegal for teachers and principals to inform parents about their children’s involvement in GSAs in schools. Child abuse, sexual or otherwise, occurs most often when parents are absent and unaware. Countless Canadian criminal cases demonstrate that predators, abusers, and bullies thrive in an environment where secrets are kept from parents.

Before Bill 24, teachers could withhold information from known-abuser parents. This important fact is omitted from Jahangir’s criticism of the court action. Also omitted is the fact that, in cases of actual or suspected abuse, teachers (and all citizens) are legally obligated to inform child welfare agencies when kids are, or might be, in danger.

The filed court documents explain that the Alberta government’s GSA website promotes unhealthy sexual activity to youth (acts that cannot be reported in a family newspaper). Jahangir complains about the graphic descriptions of these extreme sexual practices in court documents as “shock and awe” tactics. Yet Jahangir does not dispute that links to graphic pornography and high-risk sexual activities were posted on the Alberta government’s GSA website, directed at children as young as five.

Millions of Canadian parents want to raise their children in the belief that sex is sacred, that sex should not be divorced from marriage and procreation, and that sexual intimacy is appropriate only between a husband and wife. Jahangir suggests that these beliefs “harm” children, which justifies “compulsory education that protects youth from myopic parents who would otherwise under-invest in the education of their children.”

Essentially, Jahangir argues that when it comes to beliefs about human sexuality, his views should be taught to children, and not the views of parents whom he denounces as “ignorant,” “sex-obsessed,” “myopic” and “bigoted.”

The Huffington Post refuses to run any rebuttal to Jahangir’s assertions, citing an official policy of not writing anything critical of GSAs. All Huffington Post articles and columns must portray GSAs exclusively in a favourable light, regardless of facts. The Huffington Post is a private entity, like The Interim, and has every right to refuse to publish what it disagrees with. But the Huffington Post should stop pretending to be an objective and fair-minded media outlet, and admit that when it comes to GSAs, it is an advocacy group, not a media outlet.

The Bill 24 requirement to keep secrets from parents severs the relationships between parents and their own children. Bill 24 treats the overwhelming majority of loving and supportive parents as untrustworthy enemies.

Protecting gay teens from a very small minority of abusive parents is a laudable objective. This good goal can be achieved without the legislated secrecy that undermines the ability of good parents to love and support their own children.