Bill 22 Concerns

Bill 22, An Act for Strong Families Building Stronger Communities [view at www.assembly.ab.ca], is currently before the Alberta Legislature. It appears that one purpose of this new legislation is to downgrade the legal standing of the traditional family, and also introduce gender identity ideology into child services law.

Bill 22 amends The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act [view at www.qp.alberta.ca]. Section 2 of the Act explains the factors government officials must take into account when a child is in need of intervention. That is, if a child is in an abusive family situation requiring government intervention, the officials involved must keep certain considerations in mind.

Currently, Section 2 (a) reads as follows: "the family is the basic unit of society and its well-being should be supported and preserved." The NDP wants to replace that statement with this: "the child’s family has the primary responsibility for the safety and well-being of the child and the family’s well-being should be supported and preserved." That is, the NDP wants to remove the statement "the family is the basic unit of society" from the legislation. Why would they want to do that? Most likely because they don't believe it. The NDP apparently wants to eliminate the idea that "the family is the basic unit of society" from Alberta.

Section 2 also includes another notable change. The NDP wants to introduce gender identity ideology into The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act for the first time. This is accomplished by adding new matters that must be taken into consideration when determining "the best interests of the child" in situations of intervention. The proposed Section 2 (f) lists the following: "the child’s race, spiritual beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, ancestry, place of origin, family status, sexual orientation and any disability the child may have." No doubt most of these factors are relevant and not controversial. However, adding gender identity and gender expression could potentially pose a serious problem.

In its document Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions [view at education.alberta.ca], the NDP government states that "Self-identification is the sole measure of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression" (p. 3).

In one potential scenario, a child may become confused and decide to identify as a gender different from his or her biology. His or her parents may oppose that change and encourage the child to revert to his or her biological identity. If this conflict becomes contentious, Bill 22 could provide an opportunity for government officials to intervene in the family because gender identity and gender expression are matters they must take into consideration. Even though the child's confusion is likely temporary and would resolve itself with time, the state could intervene in the family, resulting in a lifetime of consequences for the child and his or her parents.

To avoid situations such as this, it would be much safer not to include gender identity and gender expression in the legislation.

People who share our concerns should contact their Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to express their opposition to these aspects of Bill 22.