The Alberta Teachers’ Association has released the following statement in response to new policy directions affecting schools and supports for gender and relationship diverse students. Additional comments will be made when more detail is known about the government’s specific plans for implementation.
“Our primary concern is the safety and wellness of all students.
I am worried about how today’s announcement will impact the safety of some of our most vulnerable students. We want all students to know, and especially those students who identify or have family members that identify as gender or relationship diverse, that teachers support you and care for you.
Today’s announcement about the policy direction intended by government is broad reaching. We appreciate and respect the partnership and complementary roles of parents and teachers in the lives of students, and we recognize the value of parental support that exists for the vast majority of students. However, pieces of the policies announced are concerning and have the potential to impact the culture and operation of schools.
We are concerned about the chilling effect placed on classrooms and schools, impacting our ability to provide safe, caring and inclusive spaces for all students. We are concerned about how students may feel forced to suppress their identities and to be afraid of reaching out to teachers as an avenue for support.
Transgender youth are 5 times more likely to think about suicide and nearly 8 times more likely to attempt it than other children. We must be mindful of the vulnerability of these students and their need for safety, security and support.
Teachers must be broadly and meaningfully consulted on these policy positions and their consequences before they are enacted.”
—Jason Schilling, ATA President