All students deserve to feel safe and welcome at school. Alberta teachers are tireless in their efforts to include all students and families and to protect them from discrimination at school.
In fact, the Education Act explicitly states that all students and staff in the province’s public, Catholic and francophone schools are to be provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and creates a sense of belonging.
Today, on the doorstep of the Alberta Teachers’ Association and across the province, we witnessed a protest by a group intending to undermine the right of all students to safe spaces at school. Using “parental consent” as camouflage, this rally was part of a coordinated strike across North America to promote misinformation, intolerance and hate toward the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as well as toward teachers who work to protect the safety and well-being of all students.
Efforts in schools to support sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education are not what the protestors are portraying it is. SOGI education is intended to ensure that sexual and diverse students and families feel safe in schools by ensuring that all students gain a better understanding of how different students identify.
In the face of the homophobia and transphobia behind today’s events, a beautiful, powerful outpouring of support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, teachers and their allies emerged. It was heartwarming and uplifting to see. Thank you to all the individuals and groups who have reached out to demonstrate their support.
Attacks on sexual and gender diverse students and school staff have been increasing to alarming levels and must be stopped. I encourage all Albertans and, especially, political leaders, regardless of party affiliation, to stand with teachers with open hearts and minds and to advocate for inclusive schools for all students. We must demonstrate collective and unwavering support to keep schools safe for all kids.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, supports teachers’ professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.