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School boards want pause on parental consent policy

Saskatchewan School Boards Association latest to voice concern about policy that parents know about changes to names or pronouns.
SSBA President Jaimie Smith-Windsor wrote a letter to Education Minister Dustin Duncan this week on policy changes.

REGINA - The Saskatchewan School Boards Association is the latest to voice concern about the policy announced this week requiring parents to provide consent on changes to names or pronouns of students.

A letter sent on Thursday from SSBA President Jamie Smith-Windsor to Education Minister Dustin Duncan was made public Friday, in which she called for a pause to the policy change announced by Duncan this week. 

The letter states as follows:

“On behalf of the SSBA executive and the 27 boards of education we represent, we are respectfully requesting a reasonable pause on the implementation of the recent policy changes and directives headed out earlier this week. The pause will allow for a complete review and report by the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth before boards are expected to carry these orders out. 

“Boards of education would not be doing their due diligence from both a legal and human rights perspective, serving the students of this province, unless we have assurance that the sudden policy changes and directives are not putting young people in harm’s way and are not contrary to the human rights. 

“We want to make it very clear that parents/families are full partners in education AND that the safety, belonging, inclusion, human rights, and desire for equitable outcome for all students remains priority number one as boards prepare to welcome back all students to our publicly funded schools this fall.”

NDP Education Critic Matt Love had shared the SSBA letter on the X platform and posted the following remarks:

“This is the letter, the @SaskSchoolBoard sent to Minister Duncan today. Strong words from our 27 public and Catholic divisions. This, in addition to strong words from the @SaskTeachers earlier this week. This is weak and tired governance on display from Moe and Duncan.”

Earlier this week, Duncan announced policy changes which includes requirements that parent or guardian consent for students under 16 will now be required to change a student's name or pronouns in the school. Parents or guardians must also be informed and have the option to decline their children's participation on the sexual health education curriculum, and boards must also immediately pause involvement with any third-party organizations connected to sexual health education, while the ministry undertakes a review.