EDMONTON—Alberta’s education minister has issued a ministerial order requiring two private Baptist schools to allow the establishment of gay-straight alliances by students.
Education Minister David Eggen issued the order to Harvest Baptist Academy in Parkland County, west of Edmonton, and Edmonton’s Meadows Baptist Academy, which are both run by the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society.
Eggen’s order also instructs the society to ensure a staff member be designated to act as a liaison to such a student group.
The schools were first informed of their responsibility to comply with the relevant section of the School Act in November 2015 and asked to submit their aligned policies by March 2016.
The government said the society responded with an anti-bullying policy but the guidelines did not specifically address the rights of students to form gay-straight alliances.
The society sent the government a letter saying such alliances are incompatible with their Christian beliefs and the mission of their schools.
An inquiry led by Edmonton lawyer Dan Scott was commissioned into the matter and it concluded the society is opposed to gay-straight alliances and had no intention of complying.
“The resulting report noted that no student has yet requested a GSA to trigger obligations under Section 16.1,” said the ministerial order. “But (it) concluded that the position of the society and its chairman on GSAs will have a significant chilling effect on any student who might want to make a request for a GSA in the future.”
Eggen sent out a tweet Thursday night reaffirming his government’s support for LGBTQ students.
“All Alberta students are welcome to establish gay-straight alliances in their schools and we support them,” he said.