Alberta’s first openly gay elected politician says a controversial bill that will change the province’s human rights code by allowing parents to pull their kids out of classes that offer lessons on sexual orientation and religion is a step in the wrong direction.

Michael Phair, who served as an Edmonton city councillor from 1992 to 2007, said Bill 44 makes no sense since “it adds so many asterisks into the province’s human rights code.”

“It has made the whole discussion about gays and lesbians very negative again from a sense of how we are viewed across Canada,” said Phair on the front steps of the legislature yesterday.

“It’s a bit of a laughing stock again — this is completely absurd.”

An amendment within the bill will force school boards to notify parents when teachers offer lessons that deal explicitly with religion or sexual orientation.

Premier Ed Stelmach has said the bill gives families more rights and freedoms, but Phair said the bill is unconstitutional.

The bill went into its final vote last night after Metro’s press deadline and NDP Leader Brian Mason said he expects it will go through despite the calls and pleas from the thousands of people who are against it.

Mason submitted a petition with over 1,000 signatures against the bill and he said he expects more signatures will be submitted by the end of the week.

And some students from a number of schools across the province have also created Facebook group pages that are visibly seen with thousands of signatures against the controversial bill. “This bill itself is unconstitutional,” said NDP MLA Rachel Notley. “This bill represents a sharp shift to the right.”

Stelmach told Conservative MLAs to vote freely on the bill Monday night.

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