Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

One Voice for the Youth of Alberta

This week my daughter asked me to helped draft and send a letter to one of our local MLAs, the one for whom she worked during the last provincial campaign. I am so blessed to have a remarkable young woman in my life, one who can not only write and speak eloquently but is passionate about human rights and social justice. My daughter hopes that this letter will have some impact on the decision yet to come about Bill 10 and the effect it will have on youth of this province. Today I share it with all of you as I believe her voice and the voice of other youth in this province are the ones to which we should be listening. Last night she said to me: "Who should they base their votes on? The adults that this will never effect or the thousands of kids that it will and who have been given no voice in this conversation?" She might be fifteen but I think we would be wise to listen to her and the other youth of this province, as their voices are perhaps the ones best suited to lead us today and into the future. Today I wanted to give her that voice.

McMurray Musings

A Letter from the Intrepid Junior Blogger
Dear Minister Scott,
I am writing to you to express my support of Gay-Straight Alliances in Albertan schools. As a founding member of my school’s GSA I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about what a GSA is and does for students.
I am a Grade Ten student in Fort McMurray. I have been involved in many extracurricular activities including drama, robotics and student council. A GSA is a student group that is in almost every way no different than every other student group I have been involved in. We meet on a weekly basis, we plan activities and we share ideas and thoughts on making our school a safe place for all students.
As a young woman in your community I think that if students wanted to start a group to end bullying or support multiculturalism there would be no debate or question that the school boards would be asked to support a group of that kind, so I am not sure why a GSA would be any different. The students in our schools, regardless of their religion, race, colour or sexual orientation deserve the support of our school boards to found and develop a group that encourages understanding between students, encourages interaction with our peers and helps us to ensure all students feel welcome in their school. The goal of the GSA is fundamentally to do exactly that, and I think it is a goal all people can and should support.
I am also a politically involved student. I worked on your campaign in 2012 and I intend to continue to work on campaigns as well as run for election myself one day. I believe the role of politicians is to represent their constituents, and I believe your constituents, at least the ones who currently attend schools in this province, are very clearly showing their support of GSAs. In my school there is no debate or concern regarding our new group and it seems most of the concern comes from adults outside of the school system who are significantly older than my age group and who attended school in a different era that may not have been as open or welcoming of students who are lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender.
Fifty years ago I imagine a debate similar to this one took place about whether or not to support alliances between students of different colour. Since research has shown us that sexual orientation is no more a choice than skin colour is I find it sad that we even feel the need to debate this issue today, long after we moved into a more progressive society dedicated to the concepts of diversity and inclusion. This is an opportunity to vote based not on what was in the past but how society is today and will be in the future and to truly be progressive in leading us into a new era of acceptance and inclusion.
My mom has something she says a lot: it is easier to talk the talk than walk it. It is very easy to talk about diversity, inclusion and acceptance but a lot more difficult to walk that talk by making decisions that may not be popular with everyone. You have a chance to walk the talk of diversity, inclusion and acceptance. You have a real chance to not only change what happens today, but change the future.
I am concerned Bill 10 does not go nearly far enough to ensure students have the ability to form a GSA. The bill your government has proposed will not make it any easier for students like myself to form GSAs and may discourage us from doing so. I hope you and your colleagues will defeat Bill 10 and start again with consultations with the youth of this province. I believe if you do so you will not only be supporting GSAs but supporting students such as myself who simply want the ability to found groups designed to support other students. I would appreciate your support of youth like myself who hope to one day be the leaders of this province and country and who will be faced with tough choices, but who will make them based on what is best for the future and not on thoughts or beliefs rooted in a past that is no longer reflective of who we are.

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