The Sask. Party government refused Thursday to agree to a free vote on whether or not Saskatchewan students should have guaranteed access to a safe space in school through a Gender Sexuality Alliance, also called a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).
The Opposition New Democrats moved an emergency motion to pass Bill 612, The Respect for Diversity – Student Bill of Rights Act, prior to the spring session of the Legislature ending at noon Thursday. The government refused to consent to a debate and vote on the bill.
“This is common sense, and there should be a sense of urgency to get it done – but the government is bending over backwards to prevent a GSA law here in Saskatchewan,” said David Forbes, the NDP's critic for Diversity, Equality and Human Rights. “We know that over half of all gay teens consider suicide, and we know that GSAs save lives.
“We also know there are a number of students who have been told ‘no’ when they requested a GSA under the current weak policy, and we know there are countless more who are afraid to ask.”
The Respect for Diversity - Student Bill of Rights Act gives every student attending a school that receives public funding the right to form a GSA or a similar club, promoting anti-racism, for example. It also gives students the right to have a disability accommodated, and to have a bullying-free learning environment in which any concerns about bullying can be taken to the school principal or administration, including cyberbullying.