Guidelines for LGBTQ+ Students Bring New Liberties
New guidelines for Alberta schools promote acceptance of gender diversity
Georgia Longphee, Contributor
On Wednesday Jan. 13, Education Minister David Eggen released a 21-page document of guidelines on mandatory policies regarding LGBTQ+ rights that will be implemented in Alberta’s schools.
Eggen, in a recent news conference, said “the bottom line is that every student should feel safe and have protection in place no matter their gender or sexuality.” Eggen has given Alberta’s 61 school boards until March 31 to come up with their own policies using the guidelines.
The guidelines give students the right to self-identify their gender and express it without any repercussions or objections. The most crucial points of the guidelines are the right to pick your own pronoun, the right to choose what gendered sports team to participate in – and by doing so, minimize gender-segregated activities. The guidelines allow students the right to choose the gender of their preferred bathroom and changing room as well as the mandatory establishment of gay/straight alliances. Another important new rule is the student’s right to choose their own pronoun: a gateway to the rest of the guidelines and an important move towards inclusive and accepting language. By being able to choose their pronouns, students can avoid scrutiny when choosing which changing room or bathroom they feel more comfortable with.
However, like a lot of news in the LGBTQ+ community, the guidelines were met with criticism. After the guidelines were given out to the public, Bishop Paul Terrio of the Diocese of St. Paul and Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan from Grande Prairie made their view of the guidelines very clear, even to go as far as to say that the guidelines were ‘totalitarian’ and that there are only males and females, that biological gender is not arbitrary and that by including those of alternate gender identities would contradict our day to day lives.
Criticism won’t change the fact that the guidelines have been put in place. The implementation of these policies may help to raise generations of Canadians that are inclusive and equal. Acknowledgment from government and institutions is one important aspect of progress in areas of equality.