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Further reaction on names, pronouns policy for schools

Children’s Advocate will review the policy, while political reaction comes in for and against
Education Minister Dustin Duncan speaks on the new policy on name and pronouns changes on Aug. 22.

REGINA - The announcement by Education Minister Dustin Duncan to require schools to obtain parental consent for students under 16 wishing to change their name and pronouns has received a swift reaction.

The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, Dr. Lisa Broda, announced she will review the Ministry of Education’s new policy titled Use of Preferred First Name and Pronouns by Students.

“I just learned about this policy in the media and have not been privy or advised of these changes. I am deeply troubled by the impact this policy will have on the rights of children in Saskatchewan. Any new policy, legislation, law, or practice that may impact children and their rights compels me, under my legislative authority, to review and advise on such matters,” said Broda in a statement.

The indication, in a news release, is the Advocate will review the policy against the backdrop of children’s rights under The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which was ratified by Canada in 1991. 

“As the Advocate, I must ensure the voices of young people are heard and that their rights are being upheld,” stated Broda. She adds they are “mindful that at times there may be a need to balance competing rights, but it is important to ensure that children’s rights are not undermined in the process.”

Meanwhile, Canadian Civil Liberties Association has announced it is strongly against the policy. Harini Sivalingam, Director of the Equality Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, stated: 

“Today’s policy changes will make it more dangerous to be an 2SLGBTQIA+ student in Saskatchewan.

“The new policy violates the rights and dignity of 2SLGBTQIA+ young people and is not in the best interest of students.

“We have seen all too often what happens when students are outed at home. Some unsupportive families have kicked their kids out of the house or resorted to physical violence.

“Shredding the rights of students is repulsive. Implementing policy that could result in increased harm to vulnerable youth is disgraceful. The CCLA will support and take the legal measures necessary to protect the rights of students in Saskatchewan.”

Political reaction has continued to come in in Saskatchewan, with opposition parties continuing to condemn the new policy.

Opposition Leader Carla Beck had called the policy a “new low” on Tuesday at a media availability. Regina University MLA Aleana Young had a far stronger reaction on the social media X platform, posting “Scott Moe and Dustin Duncan are f***ing cowards.”

The Saskatchewan Progress Party issued a statement in which it “strongly condemns the recent introduction of education policies by the Saskatchewan Party that will cause significant harm to 2SLGBTQIA+ students in public elementary and high schools across the province.”

“The policies announced on Tuesday by Dustin Duncan demonstrate a clear disregard for the well-being and rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ students within the education system,” said Saskatchewan Progress Party leader Jeff Walters in a statement. “By introducing these measures, which were generated solely by political ideology, the Sask Party government is jeopardizing the safety, mental health, and academic success of these vulnerable students.”

Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan United Party are claiming a win for forcing the policy change. On Facebook the party posted the following: 

“Sask United pushed for greater parental rights, and forced the Sask Party government to give parents a seat at the table in their children’s education. We are proud of the work we have done to force this government to act. We will continue to move the needle and hold this government accountable on parental rights.”

Lumsden-Morse candidate Jon Hromek posted: “The recent pro-parent education reforms are a result of Sask United and our campaign’s overwhelming breakthrough in Lumsden–Morse. Even the press is saying so. We won’t stop pushing this government to improve parental rights and student safety.”

Sask United leader Nadine Wilson posted: “After demanding action from the government in education, Sask United is now pushing policy forward in Saskatchewan. The Sask Party can try to steal our thunder, but voters now know who is affecting change.”