GSAs in Alberta, Bill 202 is better than Bill 10

  • December 6, 2014

I’m a pretty ordinary guy. I love my kids, I work pretty hard, I try to do one thing every day to make Calgary a better place.

Yesterday that thing was to take half an hour at lunch, meet up with friends new and old, and attend Mike Morrison’s gathering in front of the MacDougal Centre to support LGTBQ youth.  A celebration indeed.

I’ve read dozens of blogs better spoken than this one, better informed than this one.  I strongly recommend reading Mike’s post, and Teagan and Sara’s.  This is just a middle-aged, straight, white, single-and-okay-with-that guy trying to be decent by showing up to support some awesome people this week.

I need to make a few points. I’ve never been to a Pride Parade before. I’ve even expressed opposition to same-sex marriage in the past.‎ I’m not sure I’ve always felt comfortable going to one now and having someone poke me in the chest and say, “Hey, haven’t you always been a bigoted jerk?”

Maybe so. Hopefully not. My point is it may have taken 46 years, but I just might be growing up a little.

I’ve given up old arguments of thinking there’s a special sanctity in and of itself between “one man and one woman.“  ‎I’ve been in good relationships and bad relationships, even good relationship that have become bad relationships. A good relationship works when two good people work on becoming better together. Better communicators together. Better parents together.  Better people together. It is the relationship between the two of them that matters most. It’s the striving and the effort to work together.  When two people can find a positive relationship, that is more important than their sexes.

We are a social species. We need relationships with each other. Even the most strident hermit had a relationship with others at some point. Our relationships form us, shape us, enrich us, or wound and ultimately destroy us when we choose poor relationships for ourselves.  Learning to form better relationships is a life’s quest.

And that is where the heart of my opposition to Bill 10 fell this week.  Laurie Blakeman’s Bill 202 was about kids coming together and forming relationships anywhere they chose.  Healthy, positive, supportive, self-affirming relationships.  When positive relationships form early, we know it leads to better lives for all people involved.  The kids, the parents, the teachers, everyone.  It’s not necessarily going to be perfect, but it can be better.

On the other hand, Bill 10 said you can form those relationships, but when you face challenges trying to develop your own relationships there was a series of steps of people who would affirm saying yes.  When they didn’t say yes, the buck was passed to the next level to say yes.  When they didn’t say yes, it would go to the courts - or the minister (who does not appear comfortable here) - to say yes.  And when they don’t say yes outright, there might be a conditional yes where the GSA is formed offsite.  Or something, maybe.

I didn’t particularly know what a Gay-Straight Alliance was a few months ago.  I’m still not entirely sure of how they’re organized or how they work.  But when kids ask for a club that promotes tolerance and inclusion, the answer must be yes.  You don’t need permission to do good things.  You don’t need permission to make new friends.  You don’t need a chain of appeals to insist you do the right thing.

We don’t need reactionary, poorly written, clearly rushed laws.  We need results.  Kids meeting and forming better relationships with each other, building support, indeed saving lives is the admirable result we need.  All Albertans will benefit.

This blog is about me.  I might not attend every Pride Parade in the future, but I won’t feel at all uncomfortable attending any longer.  I’ll proudly wear the buttons I received yesterday and stand for equality.  Especially when equality means the right to gather together and to improve each others’ lives.  Sure, I’m haven’t been the quickest to adjust, but I have grown up and I can spot the right thing to do.

I’m three years older than the Alberta Government.  It’s long past due for them to grow up and catch up with the majority of Albertans as well.  Bring back Bill 202, pass it, and get out of the way from letting Albertans make our lives better.