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N.B. Women’s Council, teachers respond to Policy 713 review

By Brad Perry Jun 9, 2023 | 5:50 AM

More concerns are being raised about the government’s revision of a policy which protects LGBTQ+ students in schools.

The New Brunswick Women’s Council, an independent public advisory body, said most of the revisions to Policy 713 are “profoundly concerning.”

Executive director Beth Lyons and co-chairs Melanie Nickerson and Jennifer Richard released a statement on Thursday afternoon.

“These changes unequivocally roll back options and protections for trans students in the school system,” said the statement. “Staff in the education system will be at increased risk of moral injury due to this policy.”

Under the changes announced Thursday, students under the age of 16 who want to officially use a different name or pronouns in school will need permission from their parents.

The previous policy also required parental consent but included a path forward if the school was unable to get parental consent.

In those cases, schools would put a plan in place to support the student in managing the use of the preferred name in the learning environment.”

Now, school professionals such as social workers or psychologists will work with students to help them speak with their parents — if and when they are ready to do so.

“It is our understanding that the policy requires school personnel to misgender and deadname trans students under the age of 16 unless directed otherwise by their parents,” said the council.

It said the revisions amount to rolling back protections meant to help reduce suicide risk among LGBTQ+ children and youth.

The council went on to say that the harm that has been caused by the government’s handling of this review “cannot be overstated.”

“Whether government realizes it or not, many of the issues it has raised about Policy 713 echo the claims and arguments of those organizing far-right anti-2SLGTBQIA+ activities,” said the council.

Meanwhile, the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association said more resources are needed in New Brunswick schools to support Policy 713.

President Connie Keating said schools throughout the province are in dire need of certified guidance counsellors and other professionals.

“Many schools are suffering significant daily staffing shortages and accessing the supports noted in the revision may not be currently realistic,” Keating said in a news release.

Keating said the province must province the necessary resources, professional learning, and support to facilitate the implementation of Policy 713 so schools remain inclusive, welcoming, and affirming environments for all.

In addition, the NBTA said it expects the province to “take a strong stand” in support of those who are subjected to harassment and to “respond unequivocally when their safety is in question.”


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