Support for gay-straight alliance groups in Alberta schools strongest in …

Support for gay-straight alliance groups in Alberta schools is strongest in Edmonton and Calgary, shows a Leger poll.

A Leger Marketing survey conducted Dec. 8 to Dec. 11 asked about 1,000 Albertans over the age of 18 whether they support or oppose gay-straight alliances (GSAs), student-led anti-bullying groups for LGBTQ youth, in Alberta schools.

While 31.6 per cent of Albertans surveyed did not have an opinion, 47.8 per cent said they supported GSAs while 20.7 per cent said they oppose GSAs.

There was large support for GSAs in Edmonton and Calgary, with 56.5 per cent and 51.2 per cent of people showing support in both cities respectively, and roughly 18 per cent opposed in both cities.

Outside of Alberta’s major urban centres, 35.9 per cent of Albertans support GSAs in schools and 25.3 per cent are opposed.

Dr. Kristopher Wells with the Institute for Sexual Minorities Studies and Services at the University of Alberta said the data should be a wake-up call for Premier Jim Prentice after the PC government paused legislation governing GSAs this fall.

“GSAs are voluntary student groups, no different from a chess club or a football team, and they are about the security and safety of LGBTQ students who still face pervasive discrimination in our schools,” said Wells.

“This is not an issue that needs to be ‘paused’ but many of us fear the premier feels under intense pressure to delay the discussion.”

The data also showed 43.6 per cent of men support GSAs in schools while 27.4 per cent are opposed and 52.1 per cent of women support GSAs while 13.8 per cent are opposed.

Respondents were not asked their sexual orientation.

Taking personal responsibility for the government’s unpopular GSA legislation this fall, Prentice paused Bill 10 to consult with Albertans. No formal plans for consultations have been announced and Education Minister Gordon Dirks couldn’t say when, or if, the government plans to revisit the issue.

Wells said the Leger survey was paid for by a private citizen and offered to him to share with the public. It has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

The Leger survey of 1002 Albertans, 18 and over, was conducted between December 8th and 11th, 2014 (with a margin of error of 3.1%). Leger is the largest Canadian market research. The firm surveyed the following question:

“Recently there has been some discussion in Alberta about gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools. Do you support or oppose the idea of schools allowing gay-straight alliances in Alberta?”

These were the response breakdowns to the above question:

All Alberta

Strongly oppose – 12.5%

Somewhat oppose – 8.2%

Neither support nor oppose – 20.4%

Somewhat support – 12.9%

Strongly support – 34.9%

Don’t know – 11.2%

Calgary CMA (Central Metropolitan Area)

Strongly oppose – 12.1%

Somewhat oppose – 6.5%

Neither support nor oppose – 17.5%

Somewhat support – 14.1%

Strongly support – 37.1%

Don’t know – 12.6%

Edmonton CMA (Central Metropolitan Area)

Strongly oppose – 10.9%

Somewhat oppose – 7.2%

Neither support nor oppose – 17.9%

Somewhat support – 12.0%

Strongly support – 44.4%

Don’t know – 7.6%

Outside Edmonton and Calgary CMAs

Strongly oppose – 14.5%

Somewhat oppose – 10.8%

Neither support nor oppose – 25.6%

Somewhat support – 12.5%

Strongly support – 23.4%

Don’t know – 13.2%

Male

Strongly oppose – 16.7%

Somewhat oppose – 10.7%

Neither support nor oppose – 22.8%

Somewhat support – 12.6%

Strongly support – 31.0%

Don’t know – 6.2%

Female

Strongly oppose – 8.2%

Somewhat oppose – 5.6%

Neither support nor oppose – 17.9%

Somewhat support – 13.3%

Strongly support – 38.8%

Don’t know – 16.2%

Respondents Reporting as Catholic (information previously released)

Strongly oppose – 11.6%

Somewhat oppose – 6.2%

Neither support nor oppose – 19.7%

Somewhat support – 14.4%

Strongly support – 37.9%

Don’t know – 10.1%

matthew.dykstra@sunmedia.ca

@SunMattDykstra

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