"How can people say I'm anti-gay?" [Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay] Blackett asks. "I can't deal with the arts community every day by being anti-gay. They'd pick that up in a minute."
O! Alberta! But they've paved the streets and they actually spend a fair bit on their educational system. Furthermore, they will be amending the parental rights clause of Bill 44 so it will be more difficult for young Earth creationists (for example) to haul teachers before the Alberta Human Rights Commission:
His changes say that for parents to be notified, the class must be "primarily and explicitly" about religion, human sexuality or sexual orientation.
The word "primarily" is new. It means (or so Blackett hopes) that no child can be taken out of any class just because one of those topics happens to come up.
"This is not meant to get Johnny out of math class because you're upset with the teacher, or get Johnny out of biology class because you don't want the teaching of evolution," the minister says.
The changes, he promises, make it clear that teachers are not prohibited from making "indirect references" to the hot-button subjects.
They will still be free, for instance, to talk about gay rights in a social studies class or religion in a conversation about science.
"We are going to make it clear that our intention is not to interfere with a teacher's ability to have discussions with students," says the minister.
"They should not feel threatened or under duress."
Finally, as if to show how silly all this has become, the act will now refer to classes about "human sexuality" rather than just "sexuality."
Actually, this last bit is not at all silly. Every kid in Alberta wants to know how the dinosaurs did it. Its actually a bit of a mystery. Good to know that Alberta teachers will be able to have at the subject in an unconstrained fashion (lots of hissing and whooping).
PS., there is still the issue of whether a parental rights clause like this should be lodged within the Alberta human rights act in the 1st place, but it looks like that train has left the station; third reading could come within weeks.
And here's one final piece on the implications of the legislation.