The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the government to introduce protections and supports for students seeking to join or form a GSA. The NDP were joined at the Legislature by Cat Haines, a program director with UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, who has supported many Saskatchewan kids through the challenges of trying to form a GSA.
“It’s vitally important that all students have access to supports and allies in their school,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “That’s why we need more than just a passive policy saying students have the right to start or join a GSA. What we’re hearing is that policy isn’t always followed, and that leaves students vulnerable.”
Saskatchewan is one of the only Canadian provinces that doesn’t have a legislated right for students to form a GSA. Also concerning is that there’s nothing to protect kids once they do join from deciding for themselves when or how to share that information with their parents.
“We work with and support 2SLGBTQ+ students who have tried to start GSAs and not been able to, either because they do not feel safe doing so, or because of a lack of support from the teachers and administration,” said Haines. “Many of these students are living in unsupportive situations and would be put at risk if their involvement in a GSA were communicated to their parents.”
“GSAs are such an important resource, not just for queer, trans and questioning kids, but for all students in the schools that have them,” Meili said. “We know that too many young people struggle with bullying, self-harm and suicide, and GSAs help. As legislators, we have an important role to play in supporting these students by ensuring that kids don’t have to be afraid to approach a teacher in their school for help with a GSA for fear they will be outed.”