For those of you living in Alberta, Bill 44 has become a very large issue. It has the ability to limit classroom discussion about religion, sexuality, and homosexuality by requiring parents be notified before these topics are discussed in school as well as giving parents the ability to remove their children from the classroom if they do not agree with these topics. It will also open up the ability for teachers to have human rights complaints leveled against them if these topics are brought up. While the government claims that the “everyday Albertan” is on board with this legislation, I have not found that to be the case. The “everyday Albertan” we have been called, seem to overwhelmingly oppose this bill. Human rights advocates oppose it, and perhaps the biggest telltale sign, the Alberta Teachers Association also very publicly and vocally opposes this legislation. Here is the letter that I sent to my MLA, the honorable Tony Vandermeer, as well as the honorable Ed Stelmach, Premier of Alberta.
Dear Mr. Vandermeer,
I am a member of your constituency, and I am a strong conservative supporter. However, I am deeply concerned with Bill 44. This piece of legislation is one that truly concerns me as a Canadian, an Albertan, and a human being. This bill serves no other purpose except to cripple our education system, stunt the growth of our youth, and harm a teacher's ability to teach.
the Education curriculum, which is defined and maintain by the Government of Alberta, is largely based on though provoking subjects designed to open the eyes of our youth to new ideas, especially in the area of social studies. So much of our human history is fuelled by religious beliefs. From the medieval times when wars were fought over beliefs in different versions of the same god, to more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Almost every important event in our history can be connected to religion in some way. I know that a new Junior High social studies curriculum is being introduced soon, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are included in the studies. Bill 44 will cripple the social studies curriculum, because any time a teacher wishes to talk about something that might have to deal with religion, a letter will have to be sent home, and if a single parent voices concern, the teacher simply cannot talk about that subject. How can a teacher be expected to teach well when the potential exists for virtually the entire social studies curriculum may not be teachable because of Bill 44. A teacher will also have to tip toe around everything they do in fact teach, because as soon as religion is brought into the discussion, they risk having a human rights complaint brought against them. Teachers should not have to teach in fear, and I am afraid that if Bill 44 passes, that will happen. I know several teachers, and they are all terrified of Bill 44, and the consequences of it passing.
On the topic of human sexuality, I do not understand why new measures need to be implemented over what already exists. When I was going to school, consent forms were sent home before any sex education classes, and any parent who did not want their child to learn about that, the child would be taken out of the class and given other activities to do for that period of time. Bill 44 overly complicates this, and again further opens up the teachers to risks of human rights complaints. What about biology classes that teach human physiology. A parent could potentially launch a human rights complaint because their child is learning about the physical human body.
I will concede that homosexuality is a difficult issue. Alberta is not the first jurisdiction, nor will it be the last, to deal with these issues. I believe in equal human rights, and it is my personal belief that people who are homosexual are discriminated against because they are not always given the same basic rights that I am. To be totally frank, the issue of homosexuality will not go away until people of my generation move into prominence, and become the decision makers in the world. In my experience, it is the older generations who are mostly afraid of this issue, and are the ones pushing against it. As the younger generation takes over, this issue will go away. However, until that happens, consider this. Teenagers commit suicide every day because they discover they are homosexual, and cannot bear the weight of the persecution, public perception, and lack of equality they are given. Children who discover they are homosexual are scared, made fun of, and have their self esteem destroyed. Bill 44 will further pile on to this, because as long as a single parent disagrees, a child will be unable to talk about homosexuality in a classroom.
I firmly believe that this bill will stunt the growth of the youth of this generation, because it will take away much of the thought provoking substance of the curriculum. It is difficult enough to get the youth actively engaged in what is being taught, and if the best parts of the curriculum are taken away because one parent wishes them taken away, then the curriculum loses most of it's effect. The subject will be bland, with no substance, and will get the youth further disconnected. With the cultural diversity that now exists in our country, where it is not uncommon to find Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Jewish people, and Atheists in a single classroom, as well as people who are hetero and homosexual, teaching will be nearly impossible, since there is no way to discuss a single subject without offending at least one person.
Our schools are supposed to be a haven for youth. It is a place where our youth and teachers can talk about many subjects, some of which youth of today, especially teenagers, are not comfortable talking with their parents about. A student should be able to trust their teacher, but if Bill 44 passes, the teacher might not be able to be the trusting figure for sensitive matters, for fear of human rights violations.
Please, vote no on Bill 44. It is a dangerous Bill which could harm the school system of our province, our teachers, and our youth, in ways that cannot be described. If Bill 44 passes into law, not only will I be ashamed to be a Conservative supporter, but for the first time in my 22 years, I will be ashamed to be an Albertan.
Please note that I am also sending a copy of this e-mail to Premier Stelmach.