Alberta’s education minister won’t rule out withholding provincial funding from two private religious schools that refuse to comply with a law giving students the right to form a gay-straight alliance.
Pastor Brian Coldwell, the board chair for Edmonton-area schools Harvest Baptist Academy and Meadows Baptist Academy, said it’s religious persecution for the government to force schools to host support groups for LGBTQ students when they request one.
Education Minister David Eggen said he is following up on Coldwell’s “concerning” statements to reporters, and wants to hear from the schools first-hand.
“It’s not acceptable, not just for the kids that are attending those schools, but it sends a negative message across the province, that I’m quite concerned about as well,” Eggen said Thursday. “We’ve moved so far in the last few years in regards to a sense of equality and justice and looking after our most vulnerable students. I don’t want that to be jeopardized.”
He said the public should expect to hear his decision about any action “very soon.”
Coldwell said the current rules don’t respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Christian academies receive 70 per cent of their annual operating funds from the provincial government, he said.
Kenney weighs in on Alberta LGBTQ education dispute
‘He and his officials ought to meet with any schools in question and work out a sensible Alberta compromise’
Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney has weighed in on the dispute between a Baptist pastor and Alberta’s minister of education over the rights of LGBTQ students.
During a speech in Calgary on Friday, Kenney acknowledged that legislation to protect LGBTQ students is “the law of Alberta,” but “freedom of association and religion are also the law of the land.”
Church in fight over Alberta LGBTQ policy espouses far-right ideology, has close tie to advocacy group
The Edmonton-area Baptist church associated with two private schools whose administrator vows they will never comply with the Alberta Government’s policy on LGBTQ student rights appears to be a politically active organization that espouses right-wing ideology unrelated to Christian doctrine.
In addition, the private-school advocacy group defending the schools’ right to continued public funding despite their administrator’s defiance of the law requiring gay-straight alliances to be permitted in all schools where students want them is linked to the church that runs the schools through its board. Rev. Brian Coldwell, who is both pastor of New Testament Baptist Church and chair of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society, is one of the advocacy group’s five governing board members.