Teaching About Controversial Issues

Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) values its strong relationships with its students, staff, families and communities built on transparency and trust. We enjoy working with our families to provide the best possible education to our students, and value each partner’s perspective.

It has recently come to our attention that there may be some inaccuracies regarding PWPSD policies and the Alberta Education Act circulating within our communities.

As our staff work hard to deliver the curriculum provided by Alberta Education, we remind parents that when it comes to controversial issues, our schools will always provide notice before a lesson is delivered. Parents have always and will continue to have the opportunity to have their child(ren) opted-out of controversial lessons.

Section 58.1 of the Education Act states:

(1) A board shall provide notice to a parent of a student where courses, programs of study or instructional materials, or instruction or exercises, include subject-matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion or human sexuality.

(2) Where a teacher or other person providing instruction, teaching a course or program of study or using the instructional materials referred to in subsection (1) receives a written request signed by a parent of a student that the student be excluded from the instruction, course or program of student or use of instructional materials, the teacher or other person shall, in accordance with the request of the parent, permit the student, without academic penalty,
a. to leave the classroom or place where the instruction, course or program of study is taking place or the instructional materials are being used for the duration of the part of the instruction, course or program of study, or the use of the instructional materials, that includes the subject-matter referred to in subsection (1), or

b. to remain in the classroom or place without taking part in the instruction, course or program of study or using the instructional materials.
(3) This section does not apply to incidental or indirect references to religion, religious themes or human sexuality in a course, program of study, instruction or exercises or in the use of instructional materials.
PWPSD staff also follow the Division’s own policy regarding controversial issues, which states, “Teacher, students and participants will respect different viewpoints,” and that “Information regarding controversial issues should: a) represent alternative points of view and respect legal requirements, b) be developmentally appropriate, and c) be sensitive to community expectations.”

If you have any questions or would like to get involved with your child(ren)’s school, we encourage you to speak to your teacher or principal, attend your School Council’s meetings, or visit your school’s website.

Additional curriculum information can be found on the My Child’s Learning: A Parent Resource website, which provides parents with grade and subject specific information.