Under Section 16.1 of the School Act, students have a right to establish a voluntary student organization intended to promote a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment. This includes gay-straight or queer-straight alliance.
As a principal, if a student or group of students wish to start a GSA/QSA in your school, you have the responsibility to support them in doing so.
Secure a liaison
When students voice the desire to gather as a voluntary student organization, they will need a liaison to support them. There are three options for finding a liaison:
- Staff or community member
- Individual appointed by the Minister of Education
The Minister of Education can appoint a liaison if the principal cannot find a liaison. The following steps must be followed in order for the Minister to appoint a liaison:
- Principal informs the school board
- Principal informs the Minister by submitting a completed Liaison Appointment Form
- Minister will appoint a responsible adult. The search and selection process to identify a liaison may take 2-8 weeks depending on the location and time required for document verification
- The Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) will coordinate an initial meeting between the appointed liaison and the principal. They will also assist with identifying a mentor to support the liaison
- Principal acts as the intermediary for the liaison
- establishes location for meetings
- introduces the liaison to students/staff
- supports events
- If a school or community member subsequently volunteers, the principal informs the appointed liaison and the Minister
- Principal reviews the process each September to determine if an appointed liaison is still required and notified the Minister
- If a school or community member volunteers once a liaison has been appointed, the liaison will remain for a transition period
Naming the group
At the first meeting, the students and liaison may discuss what they would like to name the group. Students have the right to choose a respectful and inclusive name, including "gay-straight alliance" or "queer-straight alliance."
Supporting the Appointed Liaison
The liaison will work with the principal to coordinate the program in the school. This involves setting meeting times that respect student needs and availability.