Gov’t not deterred by legal action targeting new education policy on pronouns

Minister of Education Jeremy Cockrill speaks at an event back in November 2022. PHOTO BY MATT SMITH /Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

The Government of Saskatchewan is going ahead with its education policy changes despite legal action claiming it has violated the Charter

Alex Salloum, Regina Leader-Post

Despite legal action alleging its education policy infringes on the charter rights of children, the Government of Saskatchewan will not halt or pause its rollout.

The province, in an emailed statement, said it “remains committed to implementing the policy it announced on Aug. 22, 2023, which requires parental consent if a student under the age of 16 wants to change their name or pronouns at school.”

School is back in session next week and despite concerns, the policy will be in effect. The province said “parents and guardians have a key role in protecting and supporting their children as they grow and develop and will do everything in its power to protect parental rights.”

But the court action filed Thursday claims the policy limits the right of students, depriving them of “security of the person,” which is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That’s because, for many students, it may not be possible for them to obtain parental consent and puts them at risk of “psychological, emotional and even physical harm.”

In addition, the originating application claims Charter rights have been violated since every citizen has the right, guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to equality. But, by creating a distinction based on gender expression and identity “that specifically targets gender diverse students under the age of 16″ there is again a breach of the charter. Nicole Sarauer, Opposition justice critic, said in an emailed response to the legal challenge that she and the party would like to see the policy scrapped outright.

“It’s not surprising to see groups challenging the government’s new policy that will lead to outing vulnerable kids in school,” said Sarauer.

She added there have been several people and organizations raising concern how the policy “could potentially violate the Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the New Brunswick Children’s Advocate found that a similar policy in that province violates the Charter.”