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The Justice Building on Queen Street in Fredericton. Image: Brad Perry

Civil liberties group seeks to challenge Policy 713 changes in court

By Brad Perry Sep 12, 2023 | 4:28 PM

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has filed a legal challenge over changes to New Brunswick’s gender identity policy in schools.

The association is seeking public interest standing to initiate a judicial review of the education minister’s decision on Policy 713.

“The Minister has created confusion throughout the education system that is causing great harm to 2SLBGTQIA+ students,” Harini Sivalingam, director of the association’s Equality Program, said in a news release.

CCLA argues that the process of revising the policy was “fundamentally flawed and unfair” as it excluded education, medical and legal experts and those directly affected by the changes.

It said the revisions are contrary to the Education Act and Human Rights Act, and violate Charter rights for trans and gender diverse students.

“The changes made by the Minister contradict the very purposes of Policy 713 which are to create a safe, inclusive, welcoming learning environment for 2SLBGTQIA+ students,” said Sivalingam.

Teachers are no longer allowed to use a trans or non-binary 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.

But the education minister later clarified that the use of names in the classroom and in extracurricular activities is now considered to be formal, meaning it will require parental consent.

Child and Youth Advocate Kelly Lamrock said Monday that the policy is now more “overtly discriminatory” than before.