The parents of a southern Alberta autistic girl are warning other parents that had Bill 24 been the law over the past two years, their 14-year-old daughter very likely could have committed suicide.
The parents, who have asked that their names be changed and their identities hidden to protect their daughter’s privacy, are pleading with Rachel Notley’s NDP government to “not shut parents out of their children’s lives” and “to bring some nuance” into Bill 24, which became law in Alberta on Nov. 15.
Bill 24 makes it illegal for educators to tell parents if their child has joined a GSA, or gay-straight alliance, at their school. But this couple — who are going by the names Sarah and Stephen for the purposes of this article — say their Grade 9 daughter fell into a “dark place” after joining her school’s GSA.
“I believe this law is going to endanger kids, which is the opposite of what Premier Notley is trying to achieve,” said Stephen, a scientist who works in the energy industry and who says he is very much in favour of GSAs, as is the entire family.
The couple’s daughter started Grade 7 at her middle school in the fall of 2015 at the age of 12. It was around that time that she reached puberty — something that upset her. The girl, who will be called Jane in this article, has body dysmorphia, a condition the Mayo Clinic describes as “a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance.”
During elementary school, Jane suffered from anorexia, something she overcame through the help of her parents, counselling and attending eating disorder clinics.
Early into the 2015 school year, the parents noticed that Jane was more anxious than usual. The worried parents were eventually told by a teacher that Jane had joined the school’s GSA and they were “completely fine with it. We thought it would be a safe place for her to meet new friends, stand up against bullying and learn about how everyone is different,” said Stephen.
Eventually, however, the school wrote the couple a letter recommending that they take Jane — who was still 12 years old — to a gender clinic.
By very gently talking with Jane away from the stress of peer pressure, they learned that Jane was being called a boy’s name at school and addressed with male pronouns. At home, she’d be called by her real name and female pronouns.
“To live a double life, where she’s keeping this huge secret from her family, including her siblings, is exceedingly stressful, especially for someone with autism and body dysmorphia,” explained Sarah.
This article continues at [Calgary Herald] Corbella: Couple warns their daughter could have died under new GSA law