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By Patrick B. Craine

September 1, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The parental rights enshrined by Alberta's controversial Bill 44 will now not come into effect until the 2010 school year, says Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett.

The bill will amend the province's human rights legislation to give parents rights over their children's education, requiring school officials to notify parents of direct discussions about religion, sexuality, or sexual orientation.

The bill, which also enshrined'sexual orientation' as prohibited grounds for discrimination, was passed in June, but must be proclaimed by the Minister before it comes into effect.

On Sunday, Blackett indicated that he had planned to implement the parental rights after being told the school boards would be ready by November or December, but he decided to wait after he found out that the school boards needed more time to formalize their plans for implementing the rights.

“The school boards need time to streamline their process and make sure that the process that they go through is uniform,” Blackett said.  “Our intention was never to create any undue hardship on them, so I think it's a reasonable accommodation.”

The Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) reacted strongly to Blackett's announcement earlier this month that he would institute the parental rights this fall.  They insisted that they needed more time, and that teachers feared they would receive human rights complaints unjustly because they were not adequately prepared for the new rights owed to parents. 

Last week, Education Minister Dave Hancock told reporters that he had asked Minister Blackett to delay his proclamation.  “I have said to him that our process will not be ready for this school year, and perhaps next school year is a good time to implement it, and we're in the process of developing the protocols that we need and that'll take a little bit more time,” he said.

Last week ATA president Carol Henderson told the Calgary Sun that the new legislation was unnecessary.  “There was no problem to be solved and now we have to manage the damage,” she said.

She is nonetheless pleased with the Minister's decision to delay.  “That's what we wanted all along,” she said this week. “There has to be some clear direction from Alberta Education to the boards so that they can develop policy.”

While the ATA, and other associations of educational professionals, vigorously opposed the new parental rights before the bill was passed, these rights were praised by a coalition of pro-family advocates.

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Alberta Parental Rights in Education Could be Implemented by October, Teachers Upset
https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/aug/09081402.html

Coalition of Family Organizations Says Alberta Government Should Enshrine Parental Rights
https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/may/09052907.html

Alberta Government Refuses HRC Reform, Adds “Sexual Orientation” to Anti-Discrimination Law
https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/apr/09043003.html

 Find a full listing of LifeSiteNews' coverage of the Ontario government's explicit sex-ed program here

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