By Gurman Sahota, June 10 2019 —
On June 9, nearly 100 people gathered in solidarity to peacefully protest the United Conservative Party’s plans to bring back an amended Education Act, founded under the previous Conservative government. The current School Act, however, was set in place by the New Democratic Party government and prohibited teachers from alerting parents if their child was a member of a gay-straight alliance in school.
“We’re basically trying to protect our community, and specifically, the most vulnerable people in our community, which often end up being our students,” said Lea Cheeseman, a co-organizer of the protest.
The protest, held at Calgary City Hall, welcomed speeches by the organizers as well as folks from the community. The protest mentioned three demands aimed at the UCP government — to keep current protections for LGBTQ+ youth in place, to strike down legislation that harms LGBTQ+ folks and to release a public statement to protect LGBTQ+ interests.
Though the protest was aimed towards the rights of secondary school students, many of the attendees stretched beyond that age bracket, with children and seniors alike marching from city hall, down Stephen Avenue and rounding back to city hall. Many slogans were chanted during the march for morale such as “GSAs save lives,” “Love not hate, make our schools safe” and “LGBT suffer from the UCP.”
Organizers reiterated to the group to contact their provincial representatives via letters, email, or phone calls to discuss the demands and to hold the representatives accountable to the community.
“These kinds of events are really important places where we can share that information that people can politically stand up for what they believe in,” said Cheeseman. “As a group, we can come together and show this is what we believe in.”
The group plans on protesting throughout the spring and summer, with an emphasis on engaging and educating youth who may not be of voting age on politics concerning the LGBTQ+ community.
“Any statement of support from the UCP is a step forward,” said Cheeseman. “We need to make sure that the legislature reflects the values that LGBT students are loved, they are valued and they need to be kept safe.”
For more information on the LGBTQ+ student rights protest, visit their facebook page.