YORKTON - Recently, Education Minister Dustin Duncan announced new parental inclusion and consent policies for Saskatchewan schools.
The policy includes;
* Schools must seek parent/guardian permission when changing the preferred name and pronouns used by students under the age of 16 in the school;
* Parents/guardians must be informed about the sexual health education curriculum and have the option to decline their children's participation; and,
* Boards of education must immediately pause involvement with any third-party organization, such as ARC Foundation and the SOGI 1 2 3 Program, connected to sexual health education as the ministry undertakes review of educational resources to ensure alignment with curriculum outcomes. Only teachers, not outside third-parties, will be able to present sexual education materials in the classroom. This directive does not include professionals employed by government ministries or the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
"Our government has heard the concerns raised by Saskatchewan parents about needing to be notified and included in their children's education in these important areas," Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a release announcing the move.
"We also determined that while all of Saskatchewan's school divisions had policies dealing with these matters, those policies varied from one division to another, so it was important to standardize these policies and ensure consistency of parental inclusion, no matter where your child goes to school."
Duncan said it was a move made to ensure parent/guardian involvement.
"Parent/guardian involvement is critical in every student's education," he said in the release. "Schools will continue to ensure safe learning environments where all students feel included, protected and respected."
Parent/guardian consent for students under 16 will now be required to change a student's name or pronouns in the school. For students 16 and over, parent/guardian consent is not required.
The announcement met with immediate opposition.
When Margo Allaire who organized recent Pride Week events in Yorkton was asked for a reaction to the province’s announcement she relied; “horrified if I had to sum it up in one word.”
Allaire then expanded on her thoughts.
“This policy endangers youth who may not have a safe place to go home too,” they said, adding this is about protecting at risk youth.
“If you have a good relationship with your children this probably isn’t an issue.”
Allaire said as a member of the queer community she is very much concerned about the “harm this policy will cause.
As it stands suicide is already the second leading cause of death in youth and queer youth are seven times more likely to attempt suicide, said Allaire, adding anything that adds to their stress is concerning.
Allaire said the policy was created and announced without consultation with queer community youth, or teachers, or health professionals, or seemingly anyone.
“No one was consulted,” they said.
The result is a policy Allaire said violates human rights assured by the province and the country and goes against the United Nations Rights of the Child. With that in mind they said the policy needs to be at least put on hold pending consultation, or better yet scrapped.