Note: Parents for Choice in Education is a non-partisan, non-religious parent-driven organization that advocates for excellence in education, through parental choice. We are an umbrella organization where all citizens and organizations- from different perspectives whether religious, secular, political, or other- who believe in parent choice and the protection of parental rights can unite in their opposition. Regardless of the different foundations from which all PCE supporters may come, we must stand united when we see that legislation and government coercion endangers children and diminishes quality in education. United we are a powerhouse.
The following document was offered by a Parents for Choice in Education supporter, who represents a school community in Alberta. We offer it here as it does justice to the issues around Bill 10 and the Education Guidelines for Best Practices released by NDP Education Minister David Eggen. Many thanks to the author, who chooses to remain anonymous at this time.
Key points of concern with the School Act 16.1 and the Guidelines for Best Practices.
It must be clearly stated that Independent schools have always made the safety and care of all our students a primary goal. We work hard to reduce bullying and to teach respect for all people as created and loved by God. None of the concerns expressed below should be understood to reduce the love and care we have for all students, including those who struggle with issues of gender and identity. The key concern is the means that the government is dictating for supporting students. All Parents and school staff make their choices based on fundamental beliefs regarding the roles of parent and child, the nature of personhood, the tenants of faith, etc. The guidelines proposed by the Minister are clearly rooted in a worldview/religious perspective which is contrary to many faith communities. This is one of the reasons why Bill 10 and the Guidelines are inappropriate and an attack on religious freedom and parental rights.
The Guidelines assume that parents do not have a prior responsibility and right to knowledge and decisions that relate to the health and well-being of their children. By requiring that explicit permission from students be received before school staff may contact parents to support students who are struggling with their identity, the government is eroding the constitutionally affirmed rights of parents to effectively parent their children.
- The degree of government over reach is unbelievable. Totalitarian governments of the 1930s believed that the government should dictate what society think and they used schools as an instrument of indoctrination and social change. The governments approach to implementing the Bill 10 amendments and the expectations of the Minister’s guidelines are clear examples of their attempt to undermine parental input into the lives of children and promote a sexual and gender fluidity agenda which is out of step with the values and beliefs of Albertans.
- The vast majority of parents love and care for their children. They understand and work hard to support their children to health and maturity. The Guidelines promote and reinforce isolation for students who are struggling with that very issue. To assume that providing a GSA is superior to communicating with parents is an obvious strategy for promoting a transgender worldview, without consideration for the values and beliefs of parents.
- All Transgender research clearly states that students struggling with their identity are at disproportionately high risk of suicide. Research also shows that embracing a transgender lifestyle continues to result in significantly high risk for suicide, self-harm, and depression. For the government to promote indoctrination into this high risk lifestyle, without consultation, consent, or even awareness of parents, is an ethically indefensible policy action and should cause legislators and administrators to be concerned regarding future litigation from parents and students.
The School Act section 16.1 dictates that the agenda of an individual student can replace the values and support systems of the school administration and parent community. A single student can demand that a Queer Straight Alliance be founded with the full support of administration in any school, regardless of existing supports, whether this is the best support for a student, or whether the values and beliefs of the school community would support the religious values propagated by the QSA. This is ludicrous.
- Legislative guidelines in the past have always affirmed the importance of local decision making in Alberta. This legislation stands apart for the simple reason that the Gay agenda must actively remove the decision making rights of parents, faith communities, ethnic communities, and local boards and schools that represent them. In all other areas of legislation there is an expectation that schools and boards will make appropriate professional decisions in the best interest of the students in their care. This legislation replaces local decision making and places it into the hands of children.
- Previous to this legislation schools were responsible to serve students with professional judgment while reflecting the values of the local school community. A single student can now dictate the use of school personnel, classroom space, the ideological agenda, and the religious perspective of the school community. Practically speaking, this means that a student could request a Christian club in an Islamic school.
- The School Act section 16.1 assumes that administration of schools do not have the best interests of students’ safety at the heart of what they do. The legislation is heavy handed and unjustifiable by any measure.
- The Guidelines state that “School authorities develop and maintain mutually supportive relationships with a variety of sexual and gender minority groups who can share resources and expertise…” School are being directed to develop relationships with groups that promote gender fluidity but schools are to be wary of Parents and only use them as a resource with the explicit permission of students.
The School Act section 16.1 dictates that a particular religious perspective regarding the nature of personhood and the role of sexuality and marriage be promoted within schools, including those that have a fundamentally different view of these key religious beliefs.
- Religious perspectives include any belief system that takes a position on matters of fundamental or ultimate importance. GSA and QSA support documents clearly delineate a religious belief system and go so far as to label those who hold to contrary, traditional and historic beliefs, as homophobic and/or heterosexist. The intent of these clubs is to promote a belief system that is contrary to the majority of traditional faiths and cultures of the world. Charter protected Freedom of Religion requires that Government protect the rights of parents and faith communities to support, educate, and care for their students and children within the context of their faith. Section 16.1 of the School Act is a direct violation of these protected rights.
- The Guidelines state “an individual’s self-identification is the sole measure of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” The notion of self-determined gender identity entirely separated from biological reality is a “religious” view of personhood which is being presented as the de facto philosophic assumption for an entire policy document.
- The Guidelines state that “No student or family should be referred to programs which purport to ‘fix,’ ‘change’ or ‘repair’ a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” The goals of a GSA and Transgender organizations is to promote celebration and expression of Gender Dysphoria, even though scientific research indicates that 80% or higher of adolescents who suffer from Gender Identity Disorder no longer do so by the time they are adults. Apparently, only programs that increase the dysphoria are acceptable according to the Guidelines.
The Guidelines undermine the safety of students by removing biological categories that have been recognizes since time immemorial as having characteristics that are distinct and which for reasons of safety and modesty, have been separated for many common sense activities.
- Many schools have already built gender neutral washrooms to accommodate students who may feel unsafe going into a particular washroom. The proposed Guidelines require that students who feel unsafe using their biologically assigned washrooms (the majority of students) must go elsewhere. This is unreasonable, punitive, and lacks common sense.
- Allowing genetic males into female’s washrooms creates fear and uncertainty for females. Furthermore, opening the “choose your washroom” policy to include adults reverses every common sense practice we have ever implemented regarding protecting our children.
- Gender neutral change rooms is also a deep concern. Students feel awkward and unsafe when there is a member of the opposite sex in the room for sensitive activities like changing clothes and showering. This is common sense and reasonable to all but the most militant of Transgender activists. Recently there have been incidents of colleges removing their transgender facilities because of predatory behaviours. Schools and the government should certainly be concerned about law suits related to unsafe policies.
- These Guidelines are clearly not concerned primarily with student safety. The Guidelines discriminates against a student who feels unsafe or parents who have safety concerns for their children. Students who feel unsafe are required to find an alternative washroom or change facility if they feel unsafe with having a student or adult of another sex in their private space. For the exact same reason, a transgender child is not required to use a single stalled washroom or change room. Although these single stall washrooms are required in schools to accommodate their gender identity, these students may choose to use any washroom they choose.
- The unnecessary requirement of providing alternative change room facilities for transgender students is logistically and financially burdensome for schools. These students can easily and more safely be accommodated within existing conditions.
- The Guidelines require that additional supervision be provided for the new mandated washroom and change room configurations. This requirement is an ironic recognition of the unreasonableness of the Guidelines.
- Student safety is compromised when some athletic events are not separated by gender. The body development, intensity, strength and size variation between adolescent males and females is significant. As students are development both physically and in terms of their skill, the potential for injury in cross gender athletics is significant. Additionally, there is no reasonable rationale for combining teams. If schools wish to compete with mixed teams they should be able to create such teams. But allowing no distinction on basis of biology makes competition, safety, and even team selection issues riddled with challenges. Even the NCAA Transgender policy recognizes that when biological males play on a female team at the college level the team must designation itself as a mixed team, and that is only after the male has been taking hormone therapy for 12 months minimum. Medically we should be discouraging the harmful use of hormone therapy in pre-adults, especially given that 80% of adolescents with gender dysphoria return to alignment with their biological gender as adults.
The Guidelines remove the requirements for instruction related to human sexuality to be divided by gender. The traditional expectation that students will be separated for human sexuality instruction is a practice which respects the development maturity of students and is intended to create safe places for students to discuss personal and sensitive issues. The Guidelines fail to recognize the maturity and developmental characteristics that even the most uniformed person understands to be important. There is no compelling reason to put both sexes together except as an ideological tool to lower social boundaries related to comfort discussing sexual matters and activity.
The Guidelines were developed without even the appearance of consultation with Albertans. When the representatives of the Minister of Education were asked why there was not consultation they were repeatedly told a canned answer. “We were directed by the office of the Minister to seek input from those with experience and expertise in these areas.”
- The “experts” consulted are well known sexual diversity advocates who promote a militant agenda which is completely out of step with the majority of Albertans. There was no consultation with Parent groups or faith communities. Even Public school boards are struggling to understand how to reflect the values of their communities and meet the Minister’s Guidelines.
- Biology matters and the Guidelines move far past legal requirements and implement a worldview and belief system that is fundamentally different than the majority of Albertans. Beliefs related to gender and the nature of personhood and sexual activity are fundamental religious beliefs. By coercively implementing a secular, humanistic, gender fluid worldview, without consultation with parents or faith groups the Minister has attacked Charter protected rights and promoted the worldview of a minority religious agenda upon all Albertans.
- Again, as in the Farm Safety Bill, the NDP definition of “consultation” is to meet with groups and “explain” the bill to them. After being on a phone conversation with the Ministry of Education staff during which multiple school administrators asked why there was NO CONSULTATION with parents or faith communities, Minister Eggen stated on the radio that he had just consulted with 38 private school boards that morning. Again it is clear that “consultation” for this government means telling the people what they must do.
- Calgary Catholic board released a statement affirming the right of the Catholic Bishop to make decisions related to faith and morality issues. The statement affirmed that Catholic schools already support all students and promote safe and caring environments. The Ministers response was to express concern and state that he is consider school board dissolution. This is undemocratic and contrary to the values of Canadians. http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/edmonton/catholic-trustees-fire-back-at-minister-over-lgbtq-guidelines-1.3410766
The Guidelines move well beyond the requirements of legislation and continue their Social reconstruction agenda by requiring schools to remove the designations of Mother and Father from enrollment data. Students are not required to indicate whether they are male or female.
- Students can use whatever name they want, regardless of whether the name has been legal changed.
- Schools are advised to remove language such as Mother, Father, Mr., Mrs., Ms., and replace them with gender neutral pronouns and terms.
- School are advised to keep the legal names of a student confidential unless they have permission from the student.
Go here to access the : Education Guidelines for Best Practises