What Was Learned From Bill 24
By Léo Gaumont
We can all be thankful that the anti-Christian government of Rachel Notley has been replaced. There obviously are no guarantees regarding what to expect from the replacement government, but it is safe to say that it can hardly be worse than what we had from both an economic and freedom perspective.
We should be very thankful for the fact that Bill 24 (An Act To Support Gay-Straight Alliances), that put GSA non-compliant schools at risk of being defunded or of losing accreditation, was associated with the old School Act now wisely being replaced by the Education Act. In other words, Bill 24 is no longer a legal threat as it is no longer in existence.
As bad a law as Bill 24 was from a parental perspective, it did have some results that helped inform serious Christians of the nature or “heart” of their home education providers. The Bill clearly drew a line in the sand where schools either complied or risked being defunded. Needless to say, all public schools complied. Catholic schools also complied, with the provision of dealing with LGBTQ issues from their religious perspective. Although the former NDP Minister of Education did not like this position, he was not really in a position to threaten Catholic schools with loss of funding or accreditation.
When it came to private schools, those claiming a Christian foundation found themselves in a very precarious place. They had to make a choice between keeping the faith and risk losing the funding or surrendering faith for funds. Unfortunately, private schools, whether individually or collectively, simply did not have the clout that Catholic schools did and so they became the focus of the Minister’s threats, who apparently, somehow, equated religious convictions with anti-LGBTQ sentiments.
Bill 24 demanded that every school’s anti-bullying policy provide for the creation of GSAs and be clearly stated on the school’s web site. This proved to be very instructive to those whose convictions did not match that of the NDP Minister of Education. The biggest lesson learned came through this demand. Parents were able to see what their school, or any other school for that matter, had done respecting this issue of faith or funding.
Disappointingly, this is where it became clear that nearly every school providing for home education was simply not prepared to stand on conviction and principle if it meant losing funding. Pretty well every home eduction provider compromised the faith for the funding. Although one may be tempted to equate this statement as anti-LGBTQ, it is not. It is simply showing that private institutions are often not true to their convictions, regardless of whether we agree with those convictions or not. This event was really more a matter of the right to having a religious conviction and then whether private schools were prepared to stand on that conviction. The results are telling.
What was equally disheartening was the extent to which these compromising schools were willing to go in misinforming parents to dissuade them from going to other providers. The fabrications were truly resourceful, some even outstanding. Not only did Bill 24 show parents what their schools stood or rather did not stand for, but it also proved that many Christian organizations are not above testing the limits of truth-telling.
Bill 24 also demonstrated that most schools operate by fear rather than faith. In spite of the fact that the Minister of Education may not have had the intention of closing schools, nor was he prepared for the fallout of such draconian action, most private schools simply capitulated to his bullying and threats. Some actually fully complied while being part of a small group of Christian schools that sought and lost an injunction and later an appeal that would have at least put the demands of this law on hold until its constitutionality was established, presumingly to keep all possibilities of survival in place. In fact, one private Christian school fully adopted the Minister’s policy regarding GSAs when it had not a single student in a classroom! Apparently, it must have somehow escaped this school’s notice that GSAs would not be congruent with online programming! Fear, cowardice and misunderstandings, all pointing to a lack of faith. Why were these private Christian schools created, again? Oh right, so that they could freely advance and teach the Christian FAITH, which was clearly shown to be lacking or non-existent in most cases through the Bill 24 event.
Actually, it should not have come as a surprise that those who were willing to jettison the faith for funding would have no compunction about lying or creating novel excuses for having capitulated to the Minister’s demands. Some went so far as to say that they included the exact wording of the Minister in their school policy to articulate what they disagreed with! To be sure, it takes a vivid imagination to fathom this form of pretzel logic, but then again, justifications sometimes demand resourceful intellectual acrobatics.
Bill 24, aside from clearly demonstrating the fearful, compromising nature of most school representatives and the fact that once principle is sacrificed, other examples of unethical behaviours are manifested, did also expose one more thing. It showed us that most of these private Christian school representatives have a rather condescending view of parents. They must see home educators as ignorant, perhaps even stupid enough to believe the questionable justifications they provided for compromising their faith convictions.
If your school was part of this shameless capitulation of faith, maybe you should move your association to a school that treats parents as responsible adults; one that values faith above funding and principle ahead of compromise; one that understands that parents have the authority over children; that home educating parents are not stupid and their children are not for sale or trade. Unfortunately, there are very few home education providers that believe children have an intrinsic value that supersedes funding. Welcome to Education Unlimited!!!
One more thing. A concern that is usually generally expressed within the home education community is the potential loss of religious freedom and secularization of home education. Putting aside the fact that THEE and Families Learning Together brought “their” families to Catholic systems, joining two other very active Catholic home education providers along with Argyll of Edmonton public schools, the cowardice and avarice displayed through the compromising of private Christian schools puts Christian home education at serious risk of going extinct.
There is no opponent as sinister as one that is perceived as a friend! It is critically important that parents take the time to look into the history and workings of their associate school. Ask yourself where this school would be respecting home education if the associated funding was ended. I suspect you are going to discover that there is little love for home education if not for the fact that there is money involved.
Bill 24 and the Alberta Home Educator
The following information is an explanation of the implications of Bill 24 for home educators. In short, this article makes the following points:
Alberta Home Educators Have a Choice
REGISTER with a compromised school that allows the government to advance anti-Christian sexual philosophies and practices without parental knowledge or consent (Bill 24);
REGISTER with a non-compromised school that does not allow the government to advance its sexual agenda;
(Beware that following government programming will also introduce an anti-Christian worldview.)
Since no other organization has made this information available, Education Unlimited compiled this information to help parents more easily access what they need to address this issue effectively. Please read on if you are concerned that the implications of associating with compromised schools are too important to neglect.
Bill 10 and Bill 24
In 2015 the Alberta legislature passed Bill 10 which amended the School Act to require every school in Alberta to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or its equivalent when at least one student requested to have one. With this law, a school would only be in violation if it refused a student’s request. Thus a school that vowed not to allow a GSA would technically not be in violation of the law, provided no student had requested one.
GSAs are frequently promoted as safe spaces for vulnerable students to gather. No one is opposed to safe spaces for students, so this aspect of GSAs is not objectionable. However, there is much more to GSAs than simply providing safe spaces. GSAs are based on the premise that homosexuality and other forms of non-traditional sexuality are good and acceptable. That is, the philosophy underlying GSAs is contrary to biblical Christian sexual morality. Therefore, private schools founded on biblical Christianity cannot approve of GSAs without compromising their very reason for existence.
The situation for private Christian schools became increasingly dire when the NDP government passed Bill 24 (An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances) in 2017. Among other things, this new law requires all schools, including private Christian schools, to officially adopt policies expressly declaring their willingness to establish GSAs (when so requested by a student) and to publish these policies on their websites. Thus schools founded on Christian principles (including Christian sexual morality), are expected to officially embrace GSAs and the underlying GSA philosophy which contradicts Christian morality.
There are, in fact, numerous problems with Bill 24 from a Christian perspective. For example, schools that comply with Bill 24 also help to undermine parental authority by agreeing to not inform parents if their children take part in a GSA or related activities.
For a comprehensive overview, please consult the document Parental Rights are Human Rights: Alberta’s Bill 24 violates Charter freedoms produced by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
Home Education Considerations
Home educators are not directly affected by the Bill 24 requirements. That is, they do not have to adopt new policies or procedures in their own homes. Nevertheless, home educators are required to register with a school board, whether it be a local board, a willing non-resident board, or a private school. Thus Christian home educators must face the question of whether or not they will register with a school board or private school that has complied with Bill 24. Should they register with a board or school that officially accepts GSAs? In other words, should they register with a school or board that has officially agreed to embrace anti-Christian views of sexuality while compromising parental authority?
In the government’s view, all schools are required to obey Bill 24’s requirements. However, a coalition of 26 faith-based schools is challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of Bill 24 in court. This court challenge, which is being led by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), is ongoing and may take years to settle. The outcome is uncertain.
(The JCCF has applied for an injunction to “stay” the contested provisions of Bill 24 until the constitutionality of those provisions has been determined by a court. The hearing took place on December 3 at the Alberta Court of Appeal in Calgary, but a ruling has not yet been issued. Two reports about the hearing that provide important information about this issue are available by clicking here and clicking here.)
(UPDATE: The defeat of the NDP on April 16, 2019 and the election of a majority UCP government may render these concerns as moot. However, do take note of what schools did when given the choice of surrendering Christian teaching and values or losing accreditation and funding as this clearly demonstrates their priorities.)
Furthermore, at the time of writing, some private Christian schools have not acquiesced to Bill 24’s demands and have maintained or adopted policies that do not accept GSAs. That is, these schools’ policies continue to affirm Christian morality rather than the sexual philosophy underlying GSAs.
Of particular interest to home educators are private Christian schools that reject GSAs. On November 14, the Alberta government provided a list of 28 noncompliant private schools. A complete list of these schools is available by clicking here.
Parents are encouraged to review the following school “Anti-Bullying” or “Safe and Caring” policies. Key details to look for include if the school’s policy allows for GSAs as required in Section 16.1 of the amended School Act:
"(3) The students may select a respectful and inclusive name for the organization or activity, including the name 'gay-straight alliance' or 'queer-straight alliance', after consulting with the principal.
(3.1) For greater certainty, the principal shall not prohibit or discourage students from choosing a name that includes 'gay-straight alliance' or 'queer-straight alliance’.”
Parents are also cautioned that school officials may not hesitate to downplay the significance of their school's policies regarding GSAs.
|Major Home Education Providers Listed As Non-Compliant|
|Name||Considered compliant by AB Ed.||References School Act Sec. 16.1||Policy Link|
|Independent Baptist Christian Education Society [IBCES]
(Harvest Baptist Academy [HBA] and its home education arm, Education Unlimited)
|Koinonia Christian School Red Deer [KCS RD]
|KCS RD has recently removed its Safe and Caring Policy from its website. However, the policy can be viewed here: Safe and Caring Policy|
|40-Mile Christian Education Society
(Cherry Coulee Christian Academy [CCCA])
|CCCA has recently removed its Safe and Caring Policy from its website. However, the policy can be viewed here: Safe and Caring Policy|
|The Father’s House Christian School [TFHCS]
(the base of Roots Homeschooling and Streams Learning Home Education)
|Safe and Caring Policy|
|Major Home Education Providers Listed As Compliant|
|Name||Considered compliant by AB Ed.||References School Act Sec. 16.1||Policy Link|
|Trinity Christian School Association of Cold Lake [TCSA]
(the base of Wisdom Homeschooling)
|Safe and Caring Policy|
|Government Schools (All Comply With Bill 24)|
|It is important to note that some home educators are registered with public or separate school boards. All public and separate school boards are fully in compliance with Bill 24 and the GSA philosophy, including the following:|
|Name||Considered compliant by AB Ed.||Policy Link|
|Elk Island Catholic Schools [EICC]
(Traditional Home Education Experts [THEE])
|Safe and Caring Policy|
|Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools - St. Gabriel Learning Centre
(formerly Families Learning Together)
|Safe and Caring Policy|
|Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools
(Centre for Learning@HOME)
|Welcoming, Caring, Respectful, and Safe Learning Environments Policy|
|East Central Catholic Schools
(School of Hope and Vermilion Home Schooling)
|Safe and Caring Policy|
|Edmonton Public Schools
|Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy|
|Fort Vermilion School Division No. 52||Safe and Caring Policy|
The Financial Dilemma
Although home educators are not directly affected by the requirements of Bill 24, the schools or boards they register with are all impacted. Many home educators have registered with or through explicitly Christian schools or school-contracted providers. They want as much Christian influence in the education of their children as possible. Therefore, they should consider whether or not they want to register with a school or board that has acquiesced to the government’s anti-Christian sexual philosophy.
There is also the possibility that the court challenge to Bill 24 will fail. In that case, all of the private Christian schools that have refused to bow to the government’s demands risk losing their public funding. In such a case those schools wouldn’t be able to register home educating students any more. How many home educators would be willing to forgo government funding rather than register with a school that complies with Bill 24?
Basically, everyone involved in Christian education in Alberta needs to ask themselves this question: Is receiving government funding so important that compliance with the government’s GSA requirements is acceptable? If so, then Bill 24 is simply a bump in the road—just another sign post on the gradual embrace of anti-Christian philosophy. In this view, principles might be important, but when push comes to shove, money has to be the bottom line.
On the other hand, if standing strong for Christian morality is more important than money, a different sort of calculation must be made. This is similar to the dilemma faced by many Christian organizations when the federal government of Justin Trudeau added an ideological litmus test to the Canada Summer Jobs program application for 2018. Eligibility for funding became dependent on denying Christian principles. Organizations that refused to attest to their support of abortion and same-sex marriage were refused funding. (For example, see the article Faith groups among those out millions in summer jobs funding after refusing to sign attestation to respect abortion rights.) In this situation, some organizations decided that the money was more important, but many others decided the principle was more important.
The dilemma for private Christian schools in Alberta is similar. If they are willing to embrace GSAs along with the associated sexual philosophy, the money will continue flowing. But if they reject the government’s sexual philosophy, they could lose their funding. All Christian home educators need to think about this issue and decide where they stand and register with a school or board that reflects their own convictions.
One More Consideration
While considering the importance of understanding how schools have responded to the Ministerial demands respecting Bill 24 is essential, there is something else that you should consider when determining which school you want to associate with in your home education.
While Bill 24 is an overt attempt to direct all schools into accepting a moral understanding that may be in conflict with the faith base of the school and parents, there is another, less obvious approach to advancing this agenda, which is through the use of the Alberta Programs of Study (APS). This curriculum is presently being rewritten by the same ideologues that are demanding schools adopt their agenda of Bill 24.
It is important to note that all accredited schools have to agree to using at least a facsimile of this programming, but not all schools do so through the use of government approved resources. This means that some private schools differ little from public schools, while others distinguish themselves as Christian schools through the use of Christian resources.
Therefore, parents desiring to distance themselves from what they deem to be immoral in keeping with their faith, must not only consider whether their associated school has complied with Bill 24, but what the school is using for curriculum. This matters because what the school does in school will affect how they direct home education.
There is one very important fact every home educating parent must be aware of and that is, funding levels increase with increased use of government programming. This should be understood in two ways. Firstly, the government prefers to have government programming delivered to the province’s students, the reason for which should be self-evident. Secondly, every school knows that it can increase its income by using or directing parents to use more government programming.
There are various manifestations of government programming that parents should be aware of, including blended programming (now known as Shared Responsibility Programs), fully aligned programming and high school accreditation. Parents are encouraged to question any school offering support for home education if it offers any of these alternatives. Understand that if schools offer any variation of government programming, it is in their economic best interest to convince parents to do likewise and the school’s representative will likely see no harm in doing so.
Take the time to know what your school or potential school is involved with by not only discovering how they have responded to Bill 24, but also whether or not they are advancing any manifestation of what Bill 24 is intended to normalize through the unquestioning use of the same government’s programs of study.
Education Unlimited has developed a series of questions to help you with this entitled Questions A Christian Home Educator Should Ask….
Of note, Education Unlimited has not compromised on the GSA issue and does not advance government programming or accreditation.
Why We Produced This Helpful Tool
The reason we produced this item, was because Education Unlimited recognized the importance of consolidating information to help parents more easily access what they need to address this issue effectively. We felt the implications of associating with compromised schools was too important to neglect.
We also felt the need to produce this item because no one else was doing it. We would not have needed to produce it if the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA), Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada (HSLDA), and the Canadian Centre for Home Education (CCHE) had done their jobs. This tool should have been prepared by these organizations to warn home educators about the implications of associating with compromised schools. We acknowledge the fact that Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) has done an excellent job of informing parents about the problems of Bill 24. However, PCE focuses on the education system in general, not specifically home education. So we believed it was necessary to produce a report that would be centred on the implications for home educators.
Education Unlimited continues to provide leadership in home education, and this web page clearly demonstrates that. If you would like to be a part of our uncompromising team of families, please click here.