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Alberta’s education minister says private schools are coming around to adopting provincial laws on gay-straight alliances in schools.

David Eggen said there are fewer private schools defying the rules and those that don’t comply will have the policy imposed on them.

“That number is coming down,” Eggen said Monday. “People are working very collaboratively with us.

“If they’re having trouble with it, I have a policy that they can use.”

Eggen has given 61 private schools until early October to comply with the law and those that continue to resist could lose their public funding before the end of the school year.

He declined to say how many schools are complying and how many may have to have policies imposed on them, saying he will announce those figures after the deadline.

By law, all public, Catholic, francophone, charter and private schools in Alberta must approve a student’s request to start a gay-straight alliance support group.

Schools are not to tell parents when their child joins an alliance since advocates say that decision must be left to the student.

Alberta’s public, Catholic and francophone school boards along with charter schools are complying.

Gay-straight alliances are support groups set up by students to help LGBTQ students feel accepted and reduce bullying or abuse.

It is a political wedge issue in Alberta. The Opposition United Conservatives say while all children must be treated fairly and equally, the rights of parents cannot be pushed to the sidelines.

The party passed a policy this year saying parents should be told if their child joins a school club of a religious or sexual nature, but advocates say that would deter children from joining and could out them before they are ready. United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney says parents should be told if a child’s safety could be at risk.

Last week, Kenney said Eggen is behaving like an “education czar” with a self-defeating, top-down approach when it comes to the alliances.

Eggen dismissed the criticism Monday.

“We run an education program here in the province which is ambitious. There was a lot of work to do because the former (Progressive Conservative) government didn’t do anything really over the last number of years except have leadership races and fight with each other,” said Eggen.

“If (Kenney) wants to make fun of that, call names, then that’s his business.”

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