We are encouraged by the latest news from our home province of Alberta, that the Premier has put the third reading of Bill 10 on hold, due to mounting public pressure. So if you were a part of that, we thank you! This provides us with an opportunity to ensure the next version of this bill truly accomplishes the goal of prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The key issue of Bill 10 was that it allowed principals and school boards the ability to deny a student’s request to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in their school.
In a country where marriage equality was achieved over a decade ago, it is absurd and shameful to make a political issue out of the right of our LGBTQA youth to access the proper support services.
Growing up in Calgary in the 1980s wasn’t easy for twin sisters with gender confusion. High school in the 1990s was even harder – when we both realized we were gay. At the time there were no gay characters on TV, there was nothing on the internet, and there was no such thing as a Gay-Straight Alliance. Through the support of friends, and because of music, we persevered, but the same was not true for all LGBTQ kids of that time, nor would it be true today. Suicide is the second highest cause of death in Canada for youth age 10-24. Low self-esteem, homelessness and alienation are all issues faced by LGBTQ youth. A High School Gay-Straight Alliance can be, in some cases, a life-saving safe space. It is also a place for youth to share and learn compassion, empathy, to educate each other, and to grow.
Today as we tour the world with our band, we meet young people everyday who share heartbreaking stories of struggle and pain, and victories too… the fight for equality is far from over. Bill 10 in it’s current state would subject students to more potential prejudice, discrimination, and unnecessary struggle. Calgary will always be our home, and because we care about the youth who are growing up there, we need to educate those who have the ability to influence this legislation; people of all ages who live in Alberta or who have friends or family there.
We applaud those who have made statements against this legislation. Calgary Pride, Josh Traptow, Jon Cornish, Ron Ghitter, Safe Schools Alberta, to name a few, and we urge all Albertans to continue to contact their MLAs. Safeschoolsalberta.ca is a great place to start. Your voice could lead to a revision to the bill that reflects a future for the youth of Alberta that we can all be proud of.
Tegan and Sara