EDMONTON, Alberta, August 31, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Brian Coldwell, a Baptist pastor and chairman of a Christian school board, has told the provincial government that his two small schools will not allow gay straight alliance clubs for homosexuals or permit transgender students to use the washrooms of the opposite sex.
Those are the two most controversial components of the New Democratic government’s policy to combat bullying of sexual minorities in provincial schools. When the Edmonton Catholic school board balked at these, Education Minister David Eggen appointed a consultant to bring them into line.
But Coldwell told the CBC, “I'm not going to allow the minister of education to appoint anyone to come in here. He does not have that dictatorial power.”
Coldwell told LifeSiteNews on Wednesday, “Minister Eggen says school boards have to obey the law. Well, the government of Alberta has to obey the law too. He needs to respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms where it says religion is one of the fundamental freedoms.”
Eggen’s previous comments have been ambiguous. Two weeks ago, he published an “Open Letter” to all Alberta students promising them intersex washrooms and gay-straight alliance clubs and even gave out an email address to reach his staff if any school refused to deliver on these promises.
But Donna Trimble, the head of the Parents for Choice in Education, told LifeSiteNews that when her group met with Eggen in March he gave “clear assurances that the Guidelines document was provided as a ‘resource’ that was 'not legally binding.'”
Yet in a letter that month to Theresa Ng of the group Informed Albertans, Eggen made it clear that while school boards were free to work out a way to treat all students respectfully with respect to washrooms, the gay straight alliance clubs were required by Bill 10, a law passed last year regarding the rights of sexual minorities.
But Coldwell told LifeSiteNews that he believes his board is on strong legal footing to resist government dictates that conflict with Biblical teachings. “We want to work with the Alberta government, but Eggen must realize that he is not the head of our church. Jesus Christ is.”
Coldwell insisted that there was no bullying of gay students at the two small schools run by his board west of Edmonton. “We wouldn’t allow it, but we are going to teach the truth and if gay students or teachers don’t like that they should find another school to attend or teach at.”
Others want the government to crush any Christian opposition to the LGBT agenda. Liberal leader David Swann has called for shutting down or defunding Christian schools that refuse to set up homosexual clubs on campus. And because Coldwell has promised to provide Christian counseling for homosexual or transgender students who sought it, Swann also called for such therapy to be banished from the schools.
Coldwell countered, “Independent Christian schools like ours save the taxpayers millions of dollars yearly because we pay for our facilities.” Theresa Ng argued in a petition that Swann “forgets that he does not fund the entire operation of Alberta’s education system. Taxpayers do. Which means that the diversity of educational choices, funded either fully or partially through public dollars, reflect the diversity of Albertans who provide that funding through their tax dollars.”
Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean told LifeSiteNews, “We are 100 percent for parental choice in education. We also want every student to feel safe in our schools.” Jean argued it was hard to criticize guidelines that were not yet law.
Progressive Conservative education critic Sandra Jansen did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment. Neither did PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney nor Education Minister Eggen.