Bill 44, passed in 2009 by the Alberta legislature, gives parents the option of pulling their children out of class when lessons related to human sexuality, religion or sexual orientation are being addressed. The addition of section 11.1 to Bill 44, Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act, came into effect on September 1, 2010. This section requires a school jurisdiction to provide notice to a parent or guardian of a student where courses of study, educational programs, instructional materials, classroom instruction or exercises, prescribed under the act include subject matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation.
Schools within the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) offer an education that is permeated by our Catholic faith values. Catholic religion is not only a core subject that is taught within our schools, but is the foundation of the daily educational experience provided to our students. As such, to satisfy the requirement to give notice of religious instruction, CCSD has modified its registration forms with the following additional wording:
“Pursuant to Section 11.1 of the Alberta Human Rights Act please be advised that you are enrolling your child in a school district where religious instruction, exercise and instructional materials are used and that religion permeates the school program.”
In relation to the requirement to inform parents regarding instruction related to human sexuality and sexual orientation, it is the current practice of CCSD to send letters to parents when such topics are to be addressed in the classroom. A preliminary letter is sent in September to inform parents that human sexuality will be taught as part of the required program of instruction. An additional letter is sent home one month prior to the classroom instruction taking place, which provides more detailed information. Parents have the right to exempt their children from human sexuality instruction, and schools will provide alternative learning experiences for those students who have been exempted. CCSD will continue with its current practice of informing parents by letter about this curriculum component.
School jurisdictions must ensure that concerns or complaints from parents are handled in an open, fair, objective and timely manner, and in accordance with the appeal procedures outlined in the School Act.
1. If a parent has a complaint related to the provision or non-provision of notice or the exclusion of his or her children from instruction, the parent must first address the issue with the teacher.
2. In the event the matter cannot be resolved between the teacher and the parent, either the parent or the teacher may refer the matter to the principal.
3. In the event the matter cannot be appropriately resolved at the school level, either the principal, teacher or parent may refer the matter to the Area Superintendent for resolution via the procedures established by the district in accordance with Section 123 of the School Act, and as directed by the Minister of Education.