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);
USE undiluted government curriculum that is based on a non-Christian worldview.

Or,

REGISTER with a non-compromised school that does not allow the government to advance its sexual agenda;
USE individualized education programs involving Christian resources.

Since no other organization has made this information available, Education Unlimited compiled the positions of various schools to help parents more easily access what they need to address this issue effectively, for their own family. 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 Registration

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?

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.)

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. As a result, home educators currently have the option of registering with a school that openly rejects GSAs.

Schools That Are Taking a Stand

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 list of these schools is available by clicking here.

Among the noncompliant schools are the following which are well-known to home educators:

Independent Baptist Christian Education Society (Harvest Baptist Academy [HBA] and its home education arm, Education Unlimited)

The Anti-bullying policy of HBA is available by clicking here.

According to HBA’s stated policy, “All school groups, clubs and activities (hereafter referred to as group(s)) must teach, demonstrate, and embrace a distinctly Christian World View and Biblical perspective that is the foundation for all of the school activities.”

HBA is well-known as an opponent of anti-Christian sexual ideology due to the fact that Pastor Brian Coldwell, chairman of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society which operates HBA, took an uncompromising stand against Bill 10 (see, for example, this CBC article).

Of note, Education Unlimited has not compromised on the GSA issue and does not advance government programming or accreditation.

Koinonia Christian School Red Deer - KCS RD (Koinonia@Home)

The “Safe and Caring” policy of KCS RD is available by clicking here.

The KCS RD policy states that “All school groups, clubs and activities (“groups”) must teach, demonstrate, and embrace the biblical perspective that is the foundation for all of the school activities.”

40-Mile Christian Education Society (Cherry Coulee Christian Academy – CCCA)

The “Safe and Caring” policy of CCCA is available by clicking here.

CCCA belongs to the Koinonia family of schools so its policy is like that of KCS RD: “All school groups, clubs and activities (“groups”) must teach, demonstrate, and embrace the biblical perspective that is the foundation for all of the school activities.”

Schools That Have Compromised

However, some other private Christian schools have not taken a public stance against the requirements of Bill 24. For example, Trinity Christian School Association of Cold Lake (TCSA), the base of Wisdom Homeschooling, has incorporated the requirements of Bill 24 into its official policy. Its “Safe and Caring Student Groups Creation Policy” can be viewed by clicking here.

This policy includes the following information on support for student groups from Section 16 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'."

The policy concludes with this statement: “TCSA intends to comply with the School Act insofar as it complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Bill of Rights. TCSA is aware that the School Act as amended by Bill 24 is currently subject to a constitutional challenge in the Alberta courts.”

This suggests that TCSA will remain compliant with the GSA requirement if Bill 24 is found to be constitutional by the courts.

The Father’s House Christian School (the base of Roots Homeschooling and Streams Learning Home Education) is listed as noncompliant by the government. However, it has already compromised on the key issue. Like TCSA, it has officially agreed to accept GSAs.

The “Safe and Caring” policy of The Father’s House Christian School (TFHCS) is available by clicking here. It includes the same terminology demanded by the government that is included in TCSA’s policy:

“(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’.”

Again, even though TFHCS is considered noncompliant by the government, it has already compromised on the key issue.

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 one:

Elk Island Catholic Schools – EICC (Traditional Home Education Experts)

The “Safe and Caring” policy of EICC is available by clicking here.

Recently, Traditional Home Education Experts (THEE), one of the larger home education providers, began working on behalf of EICC, which is a government school board. All government school boards follow government dictates closely, so EICC has complied fully with Bill 24’s requirements. Naturally, therefore, it includes acceptance of GSAs in its policy:

“(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’.”

Other notable government school boards with home education programs are as follows:

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools - St. Gabriel Learning Centre (formerly Families Learning Together)

Read the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools “Safe and Caring” policy by clicking here.

Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools - Centre for Learning@HOME

Read the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools policy on "Welcoming, Caring, Respectful, and Safe Learning Environments" by clicking here.

East Central Catholic Schools - School of Hope and Vermilion Home Schooling

Read the East Central Catholic Schools “Safe and Caring” policy by clicking here.

Edmonton Public Schools - Argyll Centre

Read the Edmonton Public Schools "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" policy by clicking here.

As mentioned previously, all public and separate school boards (including the ones mentioned above) are fully in compliance with Bill 24 and the GSA philosophy.

There are also a number of other smaller home education providers. Check their policies before registering with them.

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 will 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 has been and 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 cognizant of and that is, funding levels increase with increased use of public programming. This should be understood in two ways. Firstly, the government prefers to have public 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 public programming.

There are various manifestations of public 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 public 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….

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 centered on the implications for home educators.

The big question is, why would AHEA (with a board and workforce stacked with members of Wisdom Home Schooling) not make public, information about which private schools have compromised? A closer look at the information contained in this document should provide the likely reason.

Education Unlimited has always provided 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.