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LGBTQ+ advocates welcome report on Policy 713

By Brad Perry Aug 16, 2023 | 3:00 PM

An LGBTQ+ advocacy group says it is pleased with the child and youth advocate’s review of Policy 713.

Gail Costello is the co-chair of Pride in Education, a volunteer provincial committee started in 2008 by teachers.

Costello said the nearly 100-page report looking at changes made to the province’s gender identity policy in schools was well thought out and very thorough.

“I really appreciate not only all of the data and the facts regarding the lives of trans kids and non-binary kids but all of the legal implications as well,” Costello told reporters on Tuesday.

Education Minister Bill Hogan made changes in three areas of the policy, though it was one change in particular that has garnered the most attention.

Teachers are no longer allowed to use a child under 16’s preferred name or pronoun, formally or informally, without parental consent.

Students have always required parental consent for their preferred first name and pronoun to be used for official records, however, there was nothing preventing a teacher from doing so informally.

Child and Youth Advocate Kelly Lamrock found the changes violate the statutory conditions of several laws, including the Human Rights Act, the Education Act, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The finding for the purposes of this review is that the changes to Policy 713 place limits on a child’s legal rights to equality, privacy and accommodation,” Lamrock said on Tuesday.

RELATED: Policy 713 changes violate children’s rights: advocate

The advocate made a total of 24 recommendations and proposed an amended version of Policy 713 that he said would conform with legal obligations, all of which are non-binding.

Lamrock’s recommended policy says students should have the right to choose how to be addressed informally without parental consent starting at Grade 6.

If a child under Grade 6 requests an informal name or pronoun change, it would be up to the principal to assess the student’s capacity, he said.

Lamrock did not recommend any changes to the rule that requires children under 16 to get consent from their parents to make changes to their official records.

The advocate has asked the province to make changes to its policy before Sept. 1. If not, he has also proposed a different policy that district education councils can use to close gaps in the provincial policy.

“What’s really important here are the trans and non-binary kids and their parents. We can’t be listening and prioritizing parents that are not even involved in this issue,” said Costello.

“It seems that, in some ways, the premier has aligned himself with parents who are not involved in this issue, parents who have a bias against these kids, parents who are saying that trans kids don’t even exist and non-binary kids don’t even exist.”

Costello said she believes this would be a perfect time for the premier and education minister to take a step back and reverse the changes.


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