Friday, September 29, 2023

Sexual and gender education: the child protector makes recommendations

The Saskatchewan government plans to move forward with adopting a policy requiring parental consent for students under 16 for sex and gender education, despite recommendations from children’s advocate Lisa Broda.

In a report released Friday, the latter supports the provincial government’s approach, which seeks to further include parents and guardians. It indicates, however, that the commitment to guarantee respect for parental rights must not be detrimental to the rights of the child.

Lisa Broda recommends that changes be made to this policy to respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially when it comes to gender identity and gender expression.

It calls, among other things, on the provincial government to define gender expression, to respect students’ decisions based on their abilities and not their ages, and to conduct investigations into cases of gender misconduct.

Lisa Broda says this policy should provide continued support for students who want to include their parents, but parental inclusion should not be reinforced for students who have decision-making capacity.

The Saskatchewan Children’s Advocate report concludes that the refusal to use a 16-year-old student’s preferred name and gender, without parental consent and without an assessment of the students’ capacity, is discriminatory.

According to Lisa Broda, this policy could not only violate human rights at the provincial and federal levels, but would also go against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In your report, you mention that using students’ preferred name and gender, whether at school or elsewhere, is beneficial for their mental and emotional health.

The latter also recommends that the Ministry of Education put in place a plan to make more professional support available in schools to help include parents in the identity. when appropriate and in the best interests of the child.

Lisa Broda indicates that this policy contains some positive points that should be developed further.

In an email sent to CBC/Radio-Canada, the Ministry of Education indicates that the provinceis committed to protecting the rights of parents to be included in their children’s education and will adopt this new policy.

The ministry indicates that it has taken note of the recommendations of the provincial protector of children and adds that He agrees with his observations that this policy has several positive points, such as the importance of the inclusion of parents in the development of their children..

Earlier this week, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe indicated he is willing to use the notwithstanding clause to impose this new policy.

Nullification is a provision of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allows federal, provincial and territorial governments to pass laws that repeal certain rights guaranteed by the Charter for a period of up to five years.

NDP education critic Matt Love supports Lisa Broda’s recommendations and says the sex and gender education policy should be rolled back.

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