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Islay Hayward, left, and Adelle Read, right, attend a Saint John rally in support of Policy 713 on May 15, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

Students rally in support of Policy 713

By Brad Perry May 15, 2023 | 3:26 PM

There are growing calls for the province to stop reviewing its policy on gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.

Members and supporters of the LGBTQI2S+ community gathered in King’s Square in Saint John on Monday to lend their support for Policy 713.

There were hundreds of people in attendance at the noon-hour rally, with most coming from the four high schools across the city.

Adelle Read, a Grade 12 student at Harbour View High School, said students wanted to make their voices heard.

“Policy 713 is the bare minimum,” said Read. “Policy 713 is what requires schools and school districts to look out for the human rights of the people of this community.”

“When that is at question, where are we going after that?”

Implemented in 2020, Policy 713 is meant to ensure there is a supportive environment for students, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.

It sets minimum requirements for school districts and schools to “create a safe, welcoming, inclusive, and affirming school environment for all students, families, and allies who identify or are perceived as LGBTQI2S+.”

Hundreds of Saint John students rally in support of Policy 713 on May 15, 2023. Image: Brad Perry
Ollie was one of hundreds of people who took part in a rally for Policy 713 in Saint John on May 15, 2023. Image: Brad Perry
Hundreds of people, mainly students, rallied in Saint John in support of Policy 713 on May 15, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

Islay Hayward is a Grade 12 student at St. Malachy’s Memorial High School. She was pleased to see so many people in attendance.

“When a member of your family feels that they’re attacked, your whole family is going to show up. Our whole family is here today,” said Hayward, referring to her school community.

“It’s making sure that everyone, no matter what walk of life you’re from, you feel safe in school.”

While most of those at the rally were students, other members of the community also came to lend their support.

Inger Nielsen was one of them. She and her partner are part of the LGBTQI2S+ community.

“A lot of people throughout my life grew up feeling unsafe in school because there wasn’t any policy like this. Now that there is a policy like this, there’s a big change in their lives,” said Nielsen.

“They’re feeling more confident at school, they have less worry at school so they can focus on their education.”

Nielsen said she worries the government will cancel the policy, especially when details about the review have been few and far between.


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