Sask Rivers taking next steps around sex ed policies

Daily Herald File Photo Darlene Rowden (centre) was acclaimed as Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board chair during the division's organization meeting on Monday.

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division is moving ahead with a plan to make changes after last week’s announcement by former Education Minister Dustin Duncan around third-party sexual education and pronoun usage in schools.

Director of Education Neil Finch said that they will comply with the directive but also share their own views.

“I think any time we get a directive from the Ministry our first thoughts are that we need to find a way to comply. And if we agree or disagree with those policies and then we take those next steps to make sure that we are sharing our viewpoints so that there’s good information that the ministry has in front of them,” Finch said.

“Maybe one thing with it is that School divisions and specifically in Sask Rivers, we do try to involve parents in their children’s education and so this will help us continue to do that, essentially.”

Changes announced included parent and guardian consent for students under 16 will now be required to change a student’s name or pronouns in the school. For students 16 and over, parent/guardian consent is not required.

Schools must seek parent and guardian permission when changing the preferred name and pronouns used by students under the age of 16 in the school. Parents and guardians must also be informed about the sexual health education curriculum and have the option to decline their children’s participation.

All education boards must immediately pause involvement with any third-party organization, such as ARC Foundation and the SOGI 1 2 3 Program, connected to sexual health education as the ministry undertakes a review of educational resources to ensure alignment with curriculum outcomes.

Only teachers, not outside third parties, will be able to present sexual education materials in the classroom. This directive does not include professionals employed by government ministries or the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“Our next steps are to develop a brand new procedure or include the items from the directive in order admin procedures,” Finch said. “When you think about the directives around the preferred names we need some language in the admin procedures around that that we don’t currently have.”

Finch explained that they will be developing administrative procedures around the policy changes. He said that they will adapt the policies as they come from the province.

”And so we’ll review our current practices and procedures and policies and ensure that we align with the expectations of the new policy from the ministry,” Finch said.

He explained that they would have to align with the policy.

The Daily Herald reached out to the Prince Albert Catholic School Division but they did not respond in time for deadline.