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Religious Ideologues Block Gay and Straight Alliance Formations


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Personal)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/12/15

According to Global News, there are continual roadblocks and struggles for the establishment of gay and straight alliances or GSAs at schools in some parts of the country.

For example, we can look at the situation in Calgary, where safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students continue to be a concern for “teachers and students.” In that, there is deliberate prevention of their establishment.

One student, Jane McNeil, at St. Jean Brebeuf Catholic school in Calgary, Alberta, was referred to a school counselor who said, “He’d go, ‘It’s like this: it’s OK to be left-handed, as long as you write with your right hand.’”

She had, recently, come out as a lesbian there. This was at the start of 2016’s school year. The Alberta Education Minister, David Eggen, penned an open letter with an affirmation of the right of students to form GSAs, as one might expect in a civilized society.

Often, the opposition to the LGBTQ+ community comes from religious fundamentalists and chauvinists who complain about identity politics, where they assert the LGBTQ+ ‘agenda,’ in their terminology, is an ideological position.

When, in fact, the Biblical notion of only two sexes and things coming in “kinds” is both known to be pseudoscience and the original ideologue position. The world is more complicated than the philosophy for kids, or the “childish” — to quote Einstein, found in the supposedly holy text. One enforced on much of the North American society, which is slowly being sloughed off as if a snake molting.

MacNeil, in reaction to the letter, exclaimed, “I was like, ‘Ya! This is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me! I don’t know if there’s any other gay people here but I can make a safe space for us.’”

The mother of MacNeil spoke to the principal about the creation of a GSA. Immediately, there were blockades by religious ideologues or those possessed by the fervor and zeal of fundamentalist religious ideology.

MacNeil wanted to label the GSA, “GSA”, fair enough. “We voted on the name at least three times… I think if I had just called mine ‘Skittles’ or something, maybe it would be running, but I was determined.”

However, even one year after the GSAs being protected by law, the Catholic system insiders — teachers, six of them, remaining anonymous — spoke about the blockades being put in place to prevent their formation, i.e., religious ideologues chauvinistically preventing the affirmation and implementation of the rights of others in favor of their assumed rights as a religious people.

It is the common narrative of the religious enactment of rights for themselves, at times, and the denial of rights for others, often the LGBTQ+ community or the non-religious in general.

One teacher stated, “I’ve heard of different clubs out there in the Calgary Catholic system called spectrum, or saga, or sassy, or rainbow club or different things… but never GSA.”

The Global News team agreed to anonymity for the six Catholic school teachers based on the real fear to their careers and professional lives. MacNeil noted the group was closely monitored by the principal.

Jennifer Woo, the director of instructional services for religion and family life at the Calgary Catholic School District said, “Of course we follow the School Act and we do have policies and procedures in place which can be reviewed and supported by the ministry.”

Eggen remarked that the law states students have the right to have a GSA and then to call the GSA what they wish. Within four months of going out to create the GSA, MacNeil simply switch schools to a public one, now, she is as stated to be “an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ students.”

MacNeil opined, “I was so sick… I was sick from trying to make myself have a safe space, from trying not to cry in religion class, from trying to be as I was.” Now, still a believer in God, she concluded, “I am devout, just in my own way.”


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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