The St. Albert Public School Board has unanimously approved a new, optional junior high course on “2SLGBTQIA+” perspective to teach students about “internal allyship,” a move the Alberta Parents’ Union said is confirming parents’ fears that the education system is overly politicized.
The course is the first of its kind in the province and will span across grades 7-9.
Alberta Parents’ Union executive director Jeff Park said parents he’s spoken to aren’t calling for more social studies courses in their children’s curriculum. Parents want a focus on high priority courses and hate that politics seems to drive everything about how their kids learn, he said.
“Certainly, for a lot of parents this is just doubling and tripling down about concerns that they already had about the education system being overly politicized,” Park told True North.
“2SLGBTQIA+” is an acronym for a host of so-called gender expressions, including two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, androgynous and asexual.
The course is divided into three general outcomes, beginning with analyzing portrayals of “2SLGBTQIA+” people in media, historically and in the modern world and moving to develop strategies to identify and address pressures faced by “2SLGBTQIA+” students and successes within the community. It concludes with a focus on developing and applying “leadership, empathy and advocacy skills for personal and 2SLGBTQIA+ community empowerment.”
As part of the Grade 7 curriculum, students will identify the changing roles for “2SLGBTQIA+” people over time and consider the influence of perceived gender roles on a person’s life experiences and choices, using historical and modern examples.
In Grade 8, students will analyze the nature of stereotypes and evaluate how they impact individuals.
In the course’s final year, students will examine the nature of stereotypes and evaluate how intersectional identities impact individuals, develop and apply leadership, empathy and advocacy skills for personal and “2SLGBTQIA+” community empowerment, and “reflect on internal allyship and community intersectional challenges relating to personal and 2SLGBTQIA+ community empowerment.”
Park said in this case, allyship is not just about being kind and non-discriminatory but about pushing a particular political agenda. He also said the new course comes amid ongoing concern about learning loss following two years of school closures during the pandemic.
“That’s why we’re happy to remind parents in St. Albert and everywhere that we have a world-leading choice in education,” he said, adding that parents can exercise choice “and make sure they get more of what they want in the school system.”
Alberta is the only province in Canada to permit charter schools.
Former premier Jason Kenney expanded access to charter schools by eliminating the province’s legislative cap on the number of charter schools in 2019, streamlining the process for new charter school applications in 2020 and boosting funding for charter schools in the provincial budget.
The Edmonton Classical Academy will open this year, an expansion of the Calgary Classical Academy, which opened in 2022.