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It’s time to reach out

While we were celebrating a wonderful time of year, Christmas and New Year’s, politics did not sleep. The past year was big in Alberta politically and Bill 10 quite recently has shaken our province.

Many people have their own opinions on Bill 10 – the bill that will let schools decide whether or not they will allow student led Gay-Straight Alliances – including Jim Prentice, the Edmonton Catholic School Board, parents of students, the LGBTQ community and everyone in between. These opinions are very wide-spread. There are people who believe that Prentice’s decision to shelve the bill instead of passing it is completely wrong.

There are people who believe that GSAs should be allowed because they let people of the LGBTQ community feel welcome and unified with everyone else, no matter their sexual preference. It is the way of the future to have these groups of people liv-ing harmoniously in everyday life, which has not always been accepted.

There are also people who believe that student-led GSAs are not the answer to this ongoing debate. Calgary Bishop Fred Henry and Edmonton counterpart Arch-bishop Smith have recently put in their two cents on the matter stating that the bill will only be promoting GSAs, “which infringe on personal freedoms.”

Bishop Henry has said that student bullying does need to be addressed in schools but Bill 10 is not the solution.

In Edmonton, many people are upset about the two recent statements by the bishops regarding the pass-ing of the bill and are not keeping quiet. People are upset that this is even an issue to be allowing or not allowing GSAs in schools. There is a common opinion that students must do whatever makes them happy and whatever will make them feel safe and welcome in their school, no matter who they are.

When Premier Prentice shelved the bill instead of passing it on Dec. 4 to provide further consultation, there was public outcry in Alberta.

The fact that it is 2014 and we are not allowing such simple freedoms in schools sounds completely outrageous to many people in our modern society.

On the other hand, some groups of people believe the passing of the bill will not help, either. Natalie Maheden, a member of NAIT’s Safe Spaces says, “Bill 10 will do nothing for students who want to form GSAs. It’s more to give schools the option to say no and not have anything to do with it. No student is able to afford a lawyer to take the school board to court like the first writing of Bill 10 had.”

Natalie was not alone in thinking that Bill 10 had hidden restrictions on certain freedoms. NAIT student Marika Friesen said: “I feel as though this is a cop-out, because they’re trying to act like they’re doing something but not actually addressing the issue.”

The majority of people nowadays believe that everyone should be able to do whatever they want in terms of their sexuality and as a result of this, acceptance goes hand in hand. Only time will tell when the bill will be addressed further.

We are now living in 2015, the time where everyone should be able to be open about who they are. It’s a time when sexual preference should not be “controversial,” when students of the LGBTQ community and students who are straight should live in agreement, no matter what school it is. In the future, Alberta shouldn’t take two steps back but three forward, hand in hand with our sisters and brothers.

By TAYLOR BRAAT
@TaylorBBraat

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