As of June 1, 2015, Bill 10 will come into effect, allowing students to establish a gay-straight alliance in any school across the province. It will also add sexual orientation, sex, gender identity and gender expression to the Alberta Bill of Rights.
Shift is very pleased with this announcement, as it aligns with our mandate to shift public discourse toward a more inclusive, violent-free society. In the context of domestic violence, our research identifies gender and sexually diverse (GSD) communities as being at a higher risk of violence, due to discrimination, stigma and social exclusion. Adding to these risk factors, GSD communities face many barriers to the services and supports they need to help them exit abusive relationships. Traditional and narrow domestic violence theories and approaches do not typically address GSD realities, leaving a gap in providing safe, welcoming and appropriate social, health and educational services and supports for GSD communities.
Bill 10 is a step in the right direction. As peer support networks, gay-straight alliances aim to empower GSD students to overcome feelings of isolation and alienation resulting from homophobic and hyper-masculine attitudes. Gay-straight alliances are welcoming, respectful and safe spaces within schools that support diversity, equity and human rights.
Please follow a link to read our research report, Domestic Violence in Alberta’s Gender and Sexually Diverse Communities: Towards a Framework for Prevention.