January 16th, 2019

Poorly written law leaves kids at risk


By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on December 15, 2018.

Are parents hateful extremists for wanting to be part of their children’s lives?

Theresa Ng and Donna Trimble

Parents drop their kids off at school expecting them to learn mathematics, reading and writing.

They do not expect their underage children to be ushered off school property during class time – without their knowledge – and provided with over 100 condoms and a disturbingly graphic “how-to” sexual flip book.

During a recent Court of Appeal hearing, it was revealed that this is exactly what has happened in an Alberta school.

Unfortunately, these incidents will likely surface with increasing frequency.

Why?

Because recent changes to provincial law stipulate that sexual content can now be provided to K-12 children without parental notification, so long as the content is provided through certain school clubs and associated school-wide activities.

In fact, even if parents demand to know whether their children have been accessed by off-site facilitators and/or offered sexual resources and paraphernalia through these clubs and activities, the law clearly states that “the principal is responsible for ensuring that notification, if any, respecting a voluntary student organization or an activity… is limited to the fact of the establishment of the organization or the holding of the activity.” (School Act, section 16.1(6))

Some say this problem is easily remedied by parents simply having conversations with their children, since this information is up to children to share, and not the schools.

Is it now expected that parents must regularly ask their K-12 children whether they have been ushered off school property during class time, accessed by off-site facilitators and/or provided with sexual resources and paraphernalia?

Instead of recognizing the dangers to children and rethinking this poorly written legislation, Premier Notley and the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) tweeted a recent op-ed, which attempted to equate those advocating for parental rights with extremism and hate.

Parents, are you hateful for wanting to be part of your child’s life?

Are you an extremist for objecting to new laws which allow your K-12 child to be exposed to sexual content during school hours without your knowledge?

Why do the NDP and ATA keep trying to misrepresent the issue, stripping nuance out of the discussion and creating a superficial veneer where Albertans feel they must either support this legislation – packaged with enforced secrecy, sexual content exemptions and off-site facilitators accessing K-12 children – or risk being smeared as hateful extremists who don’t care about LGBTQ+ youth getting the support they need?

There is another option: A thoughtful, balanced approach which provides for the needs of vulnerable students in our schools, without compromising their safety, undermining their families or narrowing the resources available for their support. Aren’t LGBTQ+ children in our schools just as deserving of parental involvement, oversight, care and safety as every other child?

It is time for Albertans to demand that the government and ATA put the genuine safety of students before polarizing rhetoric, demonization and shallow talking points. It is time we all courageously engage in a deeper conversation, insisting upon changes to this poorly written legislation, in order to support and protect our children in Alberta schools.

Theresa Ng and Donna Trimble are the Communications Adviser and Executive Director respectively of Parents for Choice in Education (www.parentchoice.ca).

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11 Responses to “Poorly written law leaves kids at risk”

  1. snoutspot4 says:

    Ah yes, the Parents for Choice in Education write yet another op-ed that amounts to nothing more than dog-whistle messaging. To read this vague and borderline scurrilous piece is to believe that small children are being whisked off of school property to be subjected to sexually explicit materials. Pretty sure the condoms aren’t being distributed to kindergarteners.

    The rub is that you advocate for bringing outside facilitators to present the forced-birth movement (abstinence-only; crisis pregnancy centres; post-abortion syndrome counselling, chromosomal determination of gender etc.) and are willing to promote participation of students in “pro-life” activities – yet you do not get the irony of doing so.

    Your freedom of choice must include my freedom of choice. I choose the option of a public education, free from any religious influence other than what a child may receive at home or in their place of worship. My choice is for all children to be exposed to the reality of science, art, literature, math, computer science, health, sexuality, economics etc. in 2018 and beyond. And to learn about all religious traditions as part of a course in social studies. I prefer to have schools where children can be themselves and not a caricature.

  2. biff says:

    the best thing you can do is ensure your kids wear their helmets at all times, even while swimming. it is possible that wearing helmets may also reduce the likelihood of sexual encounters. however, forcing males to weak jock straps with cups intact at all times could also be a way to avoid the need for sex ed. one other option might be the prayer after “pill”. not really a pill, god may hear and decide to prevent the sperm/egg interaction.

  3. James Peterson says:

    I believe the NDP government has taken a wrong turn in their approach. I understand the impulse to try encourage acceptance of others. But in deciding not to support families and, instead, treat children as independent agents regardless of age and circumstances, they have made a big mistake. Children can and should be more independent as they approach adulthood, but they are children and need to be treated in accordance with that fact.

    It seems to me that one argument for keeping the participation of the students in the GSA’s actively secret is that there are bad parents. I agree. But why not work with the families to give them the skills to worth through the issues (I am assuming physical abuse is not an issue)? Why treat all parents as potentially abusive? There have been cases of teachers sexually exploiting children. Should we treat all teachers as the enemy or deal with the individual teachers that have done this?

    Another argument is that there is nothing stopping the child from telling the parent themselves and this one rings more true. Except again we are dealing with children and we don’t expect children to make good decisions and especially not when they are having problems. Young teens can be moody and taciturn at the best of times. Adolescence is not an easy time for child or parents.

    The incidents that are described in this article are atrocious and totally unacceptable to me as I hope they are to you. They are likely the rare exception and not the rule, but they were abetted by the laws passed by this government. As such, they bear some of the responsibility.

    In ending I want to advocate for no outside agents to be brought in to present. They should be venues for discussion among students only.

    As long as that is true, I would be happy with only removing the law that prevents teachers from communicating with parents about their child’s involvement in these clubs. I trust teachers enough to recognize when it is in the best interest of the child to do so.

    If the expectation is that the clubs are to be more than discussion groups, then I up the ante to say I advocate for parents always to be told that their children are participants. In the great majority of cases, no one cares more about a child than its parents.It isn’t their teachers and it is most certainly not the government.

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  6. musicman says:

    The article is right on the money. Even if the NDP and the infamous David Eggen started with noble intentions (giving them a really big benefit of the doubt), they have let a lot of adverse forces lead them along to some very problematic endpoints. They’ve disregarded both the historical role of parents and their legal rights as well. They have abandoned the rights of 99% of kids in favor of 1% when they could help those 1% in a lot better ways. We may be blessed with a new government this year but it’s still awfully hard to reverse laws and policies once in. Parents need to speak up now against these NDP initiatives for children and families.

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