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); 

Or,

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
NameConsidered compliant by AB Ed.References School Act Sec. 16.1Policy Link
Independent Baptist Christian Education Society [IBCES]
(Harvest Baptist Academy [HBA] and its home education arm, Education Unlimited)
    Anti-Bullying Policy
Koinonia Christian School Red Deer [KCS RD]
(Koinonia@Home)
    Safe and Caring Policy
40-Mile Christian Education Society
(Cherry Coulee Christian Academy [CCCA])
    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
NameConsidered compliant by AB Ed.References School Act Sec. 16.1Policy 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:
NameConsidered 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
(Argyll Centre)
  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.