Responses to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission survey on Saskatchewan’s new pronoun legislation
In general, what do you think about the Ministry of Education policy and/or legislated amendments to The Education Act, 1995?
Not at all in favour. The report from New Brunswick’s Child and Youth advocate on the similar policy in their province made clear that not only were there actual harms that could be caused because of such legislation, but that in these cases, the balance of rights tilted towards the student. So not only is the new legislation wrong from the standpoint of improving the lives of Saskatchewan residents, but it’s wrong in the implementation, a fact clearly known by the Saskatchewan Party, since they used the notwithstanding clause to override the rights of youth in our province.
Are there any changes you believe could be made that would improve the policy/legislation? If so, please describe below:
The adversarial position that this law creates between schools and parents means the whole thing should be scrapped.
If policy is needed to align practices across school divisions in Saskatchewan, I recommend looking at the appendices of the report from New Brunswick’s Child and Youth advocate, where she proposed a set of guidelines that respect current law and follow recommended practices from doctors and psychologists.
Do you have specific knowledge of a transgender student who used their chosen name/pronouns at school, but did not inform their parents/guardians? If so, please describe the situation.
Yes. As a teacher, with over twenty years in Saskatchewan schools, I have had one student (among the hundreds I have taught) whose family did not approve of their student’s chosen name and pronouns. I was instructed in that case to use the birth name and pronouns when speaking with the parents about the student, but to use the student’s chosen name and gender-aligned pronouns on my daily interactions with this student.
As a parent, I know of one of my children’s friends whose parents are not accepting, and who uses a different name and pronouns at school than at home. Our family has welcomed this student into our home on occasion, and has always used their chosen name and pronouns.
What do you think is the appropriate role for parents in their child’s name/pronoun use at school?
I think parents should support their child’s choices regarding pronouns. Failing that, the school should be a place where students feel safe to express themselves, including their gender identity. I do not think parents should be able to dictate the school’s use of names and/or pronouns towards their student.
What specific studies, reports, or other recommendations inform your preferred approach to this situation?
The perspective of trans adults: https://xtramagazine.com/health/trans-health/outing-trans-kids-schools-244268
The WPATH Standards of Care: https://www.wpath.org/publications/soc
The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for support and care: https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/142/4/e20182162/37381/Ensuring-Comprehensive-Care-and-Support-for?autologincheck=redirected
How will this policy affect the lives of transgender students at school? Please explain.
The new policy will make students less safe. If students have no place where their authentic gender expression is recognized, it will negatively impact their mental health.
What concerns do you have, if any, regarding the collection, storage, and use of information relating to students’ gender identity by schools, school divisions, or other parties? Such information could include details about preferred names and pronouns, deadnames, or other information.
I think it’s useful for schools to know the student’s preferred name and pronouns so there is consistency among the staff. Even in cases where parents support the student (the vast majority with which I have been involved), there is the potential for mix ups of this information is not available to teachers. This is true not only for gender diverse students, but also students who use nicknames, including newcomers to Canada who choose to use a more euro-centric version of their name.
Should the pronoun/name policy stay in place, are there other processes or supports are needed to assist teachers, parents and/or students? If so, please describe them:
If the legislation remains in place, the government absolutely needs to commit significant resources towards counseling and mental health professionals in schools to support the students who will be negatively impacted by this change. It’s unconscionable that the government has foisted responsibility for any negative outcomes on a system that is already overburdened with case loads, without contributing to ensure they are adequately funded.