Legal Battle Ensues Over Sasketchewan’s Gender Identity Consent Policy in Schools

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The legal battle is set to ensue in Regina’s Court of King’s Bench on Tuesday morning concerning the injunction application submitted against the Government of Saskatchewan’s parental consent policy. UR Pride, working jointly with Egale Canada and McCarthy Tétrault LLP, are contesting the constitutionality of the recently established policy enforcing that educators must attain parental consent for minors under 16 seeking to alter their chosen names or personal pronouns at school.

The new policy is critiqued on the grounds of discrimination against gender-diverse students as proclaimed by Adam Goldenberg, a partner with McCarthy Tétrault and co-representative for UR Pride. He opines that the policy compels teachers to incorrectly gender students and potentially divulge a student’s gender diversion to their parents.

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Goldenberg justifies these claims with expert testimony which indicates severe and lasting harm inflicted on students when a safe, respectful acknowledgement from trusted school personnel is denied. UR Pride’s core argument is based on the policy’s infringement upon two sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms pertaining to personal security and equality.

The legal representatives of UR Pride are seeking a prohibition, forestalling the execution of the policy until its constitutionality is evaluated by a judge. Goldenberg expresses concerns about any policy, shrouded in doubts about its constitutionality, causing irreversible harm to young, gender diverse students in Saskatchewan schools.

Additional comments on the policy came from Dr. Lisa Broda, Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth, following her review last week. She noted that while parents play a vital role in a child’s development, addressing the needs of transgender and gender diverse students should not be sacrificed in the process. She stressed that strict rules surrounding consent are not necessary to ensure parental involvement and proposed flexible approaches that would not contravene children’s human rights.

Broda provided two recommendations: a revision of the policy that would validate children’s rights to gender identity and expression, eliminating any ambiguity and respecting the preferred names and pronouns of students capable of making personal decisions; and the development of a substantive plan by the Ministry of Education to enhance support for parental involvement, considering the child’s best interests.

After the advocate’s report, the Ministry of Education agreed that benefits could be derived from the policy while still respecting the rights of parents. However, the Government of Saskatchewan emphasized its commitment to ensure parental involvement in children’s education and to continue implementing the Parental Inclusion and Consent policy.

The court hearing will commence at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.