It was supposed to be a simple message to include parents in school matters, but carrying buttons with the saying, “Include Parents” was the start of a political storm for one Medicine Hat mother.
Maureen Prince, volunteer president of the Medicine Hat Wildrose Constituency Association, says she was acting as a private citizen when she wore the button to Edmonton, which sparked a heated debate about gay-straight alliances (GSA).
“It’s just grown into a monster,” Prince said.
Several Wildrose MLAs also wore the buttons in the legislature Monday.
“They started in Medicine Hat because we couldn’t get the attention of our school board,” Prince said.
“So I decided, well if you’re going to silence my voice, I’m going to wear this button that you can’t silence. I’m going to say please include parents, we love our kids and we want to help.”
The contentious question at the centre — should parents be told if their kids join a GSA?
Calgary NDP MLA Sandra Jansen asked if Wildrose MLAs wearing the buttons support “outing” kids to their parents. Wildrose leader Brian Jean was also asked Wednesday if wearing the buttons meant his party was divided.
“The buttons themselves were talking about parental involvement with their children and I think that needs to be encouraged,” Jean said.
“If parents are concerned, they can talk to their children,” argued NDP MLA Michael Connolly.
“It isn’t up to the government — whether it’s an NDP government, a Wildrose government, or PC government or whatever government comes forward. It is up to the youth to decide what is safest and best for them.”
Mike Morrison, a vocal advocate of the LGTBQ community, says the current policy for GSAs is working well.
“Facts, studies, research, everything shows that not every household is supportive of LGBTQ youth, and because of that, Bill 10 and GSAs have to exist,” Morrison said.
Prince doesn’t agree with a blanket policy, and hopes others aren’t afraid to speak up and join a conversation.
“We live in a country that celebrates freedom of speech, but if anybody happens to say something that the social climate disagrees with, our comments are turned into lies and we are slandered,” Prince said.
She also believes parents are the best advocates for their children.
“We care about our kids, please let us be included.”