BC's unsubtle plot to steal parental responsibility

Imagine: a group of adults wearing “stop SOGI” t-shirts gather on a school sidewalk. (SOGI: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.)

Police are called and arrive to arrest them — just in time for their children watch from the school doors. 


No. British Columbia’s NDP government recently announced plans to outlaw protests within 66 feet of school grounds, citing “aggressive” protests. Premier Eby said protests happen because “some people” are angry about gender and sexual education.

“Some people”?

These aren’t just any people. These are parents who are protesting.

Educational authorities insist children should be allowed to socially transition without parents’ knowledge, citing a “right to privacy.” What they really mean is that they, as agents of the state, can exercise the rights of children against their parents. Parents, understandably, are objecting.

Eby’s response is patronizing. And it obscures the real issue.

There is a crisis of confidence in Canada’s public schools. The number of children leaving public education for independent/private schools and home education is growing across Canada. Statistics Canada says the percentage of students in private schools has risen by nearly a third over the last 17 years, from 7% to 9.1%.

In Alberta the number is 10%, when you include Charter schools.

In Ontario, there are actually fewer students in public school than 20 years ago.

The exodus is more dramatic than it looks. Alberta Charter schools must make their waitlist numbers public, and they are twice as large as current enrollment. There’s every reason to suspect this is true across the board — meaning that 17% of students across Canada have either left the public system or are trying to get out.

It’s a good thing that independent schools and home education alternatives are available — for now. 

Unfortunately, these alternatives may not be around for long if self-proclaimed “public school advocates” get their way. Teachers’ unions often push to eliminate Catholic education as well as private schools. 

So do public school board associations such as the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta (PSBAA.) They claim that we’ll save money — even though evidence shows the opposite. In fact, a 2019 study commissioned by Parents for Choice in Education and the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation showed that Alberta’s independent schools and home education saved almost a quarter of a billion dollars per year to the government, over the previous eight years.

The real reasons may have more to do with the fact that independent school teachers don’t pay union dues. And the PSBAA wants what money the separate system has. It seems the education “Blob” — teachers’ unions, educational bureaucrats, Faculties of Education, and activist groups — have become each other’s constituencies. These educational elites are competing for money, power, and prestige. The interests of parents and children aren’t important — and facts only matter if they’re convenient. 

Sex and gender education is only the latest attack on parental authority.  The Alberta Teachers’ Association tells teachers they stand in parens patriae, as “agents of the state.”  It’s the status accorded to the social worker who comes to seize children from the home. The doctrine seeks to set teachers against parental authority. DEI, comprehensive sex education, gender education and attacks on Catholic and alternative schools are all part of the same picture.

That’s why parents are angry.

But what happens if the educational elites succeed? If parents cannot leave the system, and it’s illegal to protest?  Anger will rise without an outlet. Banning protest and independent taxpayer-funded education intensifies the conflict. 

Eby-style legislation won’t help. If a group of parents in t-shirts sit on the ground in front of their children’s school, will we really arrest them all?

Perhaps there is an alternative. Are parents angry because they have no voice? Let them have one. Give authority back to parents, to restore their confidence in education.  Then parents won’t need to protest — and Eby won’t need to repress them.

John Hilton-O’Brien is the Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education, www.parentchoice.ca

This article originally appeared in the Western Standard on May 9th, 2024. A printable pdf is available.