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Calgary students walk out of class to protest GSA changes

Hundreds of Calgary students walked out of class Friday, to protest potential changes to how Gay-Straight Alliances are administered in Alberta.

During the Alberta election, when now-Premier Jason Kenney said his government would revive the 2014 Progressive Conservative Education Act, which many see as an abolition of current protection for Gay-Straight Alliances under Bill 24, thousands across the province staged rallies.

The primary concern is over the disclosure of a student’s participation in a GSA to parents. In March, however, Kenney said he believed parents would only be contacted in rare situations.

Students at Western Canada joined thousands of other Alberta students to walk out of school Friday in protest of potential changes to Bill 24. VIDEO BY AZIN GHAFFARI

On Friday, students continued their opposition by staging walkouts across Alberta. Students left classes at 9:30 a.m. Friday and returned to classes at 9:50 a.m.

Students at Western Canada High School in Calgary participated in the event, saying it’s important for them to stand up for what they believe.

Students held signs, including one that said, “Hey Kenny [sic], Leave us alone. – The Gays”

“I’m here so that I can prevent the UCP from reverting to Bill 10 after Bill 24. Bill 10 will basically allow teachers to tell parents if their child is in a GSA. It’s very important that we don’t have that in because sometimes these kids aren’t going to be safe if their parents know,” said Amy, a Grade 10 student and one of the event organizers.

“And it should also be entirely up to the individual themselves if they want to come out because it’s definitely a very personal and beautiful moment that should be dictated by the students themselves and not the government.”

Students at Western Canada High School walk out of their classes to protest potential changes to Bill 24 protecting Gay-Straight Alliances – Friday, May 3, 2019. AZIN GHAFFARI / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Grade 11 student Katya said quite often teens don’t feel comfortable talking about this stuff with their parents.

“I think it’s unfair to a lot of students,” she said.

“So I think it’s important for us to make sure that they have a space space at school where they feel comfortable being themselves.”

It wasn’t only students out at the walkout. Other supporters joined in to offer their support.

“I’m here to support the kids. Many years ago I was a gay kid struggling to deal with my identity in small town Saskatchewan and I didn’t have any support whatsoever,” said Steve Gin.

“So I think it’s an obligation for those of us who have weathered through this and have a great deal of privilege right now to come out and support those initiative these kids are taking.”

Students at Western Canada High School walk out of their classes to protest potential changes to Bill 24, which protects Gay-Straight Alliances in Alberta schools. AZIN GHAFFARI / LIVEWIRE CALGARY