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Children’s Advocate report weighs in against pronouns policy

Sask. Advocate for Children and Youth Lisa Broda issues findings on review on pronouns policy Friday afternoon
A protester in North Battleford, taking a stand against the Sask. Government's recent educational policy, makes a 'Hang Loose' sign while standing on the corner of 100th Street.

SASKATOON - The province’s Children’s Advocate is calling for changes to the province’s names and pronouns policy in schools.

Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, Dr. Lisa Broda, issued her report on the Ministry of Education policy Friday and made two recommendations. One calls for amending the policy to “recognize the right of all individuals to non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, to remove ambiguities around the scope of the policy, and to respect the preferred name and pronouns of students able to demonstrate the capacity to make personal decisions,” according to their news release.

The other recommendation is for the Ministry of Education to “develop and implement a concrete plan to increase the professional supports available in schools to facilitate parental inclusion when in the best interests of the child.”

In her review, Broda assessed the policy to see how rights were impacted in connection to  The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Gender identity is a prohibited ground of discrimination under provincial human rights legislation, and the education system has a duty to accommodate the needs of transgender and gender diverse students,” said Broda in a statement. 

“We agree with the government’s desire to place a high importance on the involvement of parents and guardians in education. However, this objective can be achieved without imposing such strict rules around consent, which could result in a violation of a young person's rights under provincial, constitutional, and international human rights laws.” stated Broda.

Broda also took issue with the portion of the policy setting age 16 as the age permitting youth to be able to provide consent to change their own names or pronouns in school. The Children’s Advocate states the age requirement is not justifiable, given it is not based on the demonstrated capacity of a student.

“Many young people under the age of 16 will have the capacity to make this type of decision. Giving them the chance to demonstrate capacity is an important step in accommodating their right to their gender identity,” Broda said. 

According to their news release the findings and recommendations of this report have been sent to the Ministry of Education. 

The opposition New Democrats have issued their statement in response to the report. Opposition Education Critic Matt Love said in a release: “The Children’s Advocate has spoken: The Sask. Party’s outing policy violates the rights of children. This policy should be scrapped.”

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