Pallister Government Refuses to Support Bill to Protect LGBTTQ* Students

October 4, 2018

The Manitoba NDP criticized the government for refusing to support a bill that would protect LGBTTQ* students from discrimination and bullying.

Bill 224 The Public Schools Amendment Act (No Disclosure Without Consent) was debated this morning after being introduced by NDP Critic for Education and Training Matt Wiebe. The Pallister government refused to allow the bill to come to a vote by talking it out in the Legislature.

Bill 224 sets out protections for LGBTTQ* students who are members or allies of gay-straight alliance clubs (GSAs) in schools. The bill restricts a school board from disclosing to any parent that a student is involved in or supports a GSA, without that student’s consent. It also allows students to withhold their consent to parent disclosure in the case of bullying based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We know that all children deserve to feel safe and supported, but sometimes they aren’t able to be their true selves at home,” said Wiebe. “Bill 224 would make schools a safe place where children can live freely without fear of judgement or reprisal. It’s a shame the Pallister government does not see the value in that.”

As government, the Manitoba NDP was proud to pass historic legislation to promote inclusive and diverse schools with Bill 18 the Public Schools Amendment Act (Safe and Inclusive Schools). The bill set out provisions which ensured schools allow students to form organizations like GSAs in order to promote mutual respect and safety among students. Bill 18 also addressed the issue of bullying and cyberbullying in schools by setting clear reporting mechanisms for teachers and principals, as well as mandating school boards to establish policies that promote respect for all students.

Wiebe noted the current Education Minister led the charge against Bill 18 when the bill was before the House. He supported protests against anti-bullying measures for LGBTTQ* students. The Premier himself called gay marriage a “social experiment” as a Member of Parliament.

“We are proud of our history and our efforts to stand up for the rights of Manitoba’s LGBTTQ* community,” said Wiebe. “We are fighting for safe, inclusive schools in the face of a Pallister government that is refusing to take meaningful action.”