GSA Bill Provides Important Clarity

Release Date: November 2, 2017

Alberta Teachers’ Association president Greg Jeffery is applauding the introduction of School Act amendments to clarify the law related to gay-straight alliances and queer-straight alliances (GSAs/QSAs) in Alberta schools.

GSAs are about ensuring sexual and gender minority students feel safe and welcome at school.

Some students who are even nervous that their participation in GSA activities might be disclosed simply will not go—and the support they need disappears. Making it clear that the support is confidential removes some big barriers to access.

—Greg Jeffery, ATA president

The Association has expressed concerns in the past about how the student privacy issue could place teachers in a difficult position. The ATA’s Code of Conduct and provincial privacy law would likely preclude disclosure of GSA participation without student consent, but recent public attention and political discussion has raised questions about those obligations.

Students and teachers will benefit from legal clarity. The issue of GSA attendance and student privacy has become unfortunately politicised and unnecessarily divisive. If this bill is passed, teachers will no longer have to worry about managing competing pressures on such a sensitive topic.

Teachers will be able to point to the law and tell students and parents clearly—student privacy, safety and security comes first.

—Greg Jeffery, ATA president

Jeffery is calling for all-party support for the bill.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.