UCP Clarifying Stance on GSA’s, Public Advisory Highlighting Students Privacy Laws

The provincial government is clearing up ‘misinterpretations’ about their stance on GSA’s.

Bill 8, also known as the Education Amendment Act, is currently being debated in the Alberta Legislature.

These discussions have led to opposition highlighting the UCP’s alleged stance on gay-straight alliances noting they want to contact parents if a child joins one of these groups.

In a statement, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says this is not true.

“Our government opposes mandatory parental notification of student involvement in inclusion groups, and Alberta will have among the most comprehensive statutory protections for gay-straight alliances in Canada.”

She added the only time information being shared to parents by schools is necessary is if they’re concerned for the students wellbeing.

“Legislation needs to balance protecting children and their privacy with the rights of parents, so children are getting the supports they need,” said LaGrange. “Though it would be rare, disclosure of GSA/QSA membership would only be justified on the basis that the disclosure would avert or minimize a risk of harm.”

Meanwhile, Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton is joining the conversation to clarify privacy laws in place for students.

In a statement of her own, she says students have the rights to control their own information.

“It is often difficult to know what this means until you or someone you know is personally affected. They must also know that there are mechanisms in place through my office to review situations when they believe their privacy rights have been infringed.”

Clayton’s office is also introducing a public advisory so students, schools, and the public know when it’s legal to share someone’s information about joining a GSA.

This includes information that’s not considered invasive, law enforcement being able to obtain information for an investigation, or the safety of the individual is in question.

The advisory does note the province can introduce an act that allows them to share this information. Disclosing this is still discretionary as it allows schools to do so but cannot force them.

“It is my hope that with this advisory, school boards and private schools will better understand their obligations to student privacy in this regard,” added Clayton.

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