Moe cites poll in support of preferred pronoun policy in Sask.

Rob O'Flanagan/Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Nearly 400 people gathered at the Saskatoon Southeast constituency office of MLA Don Morgan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on Sunday Aug. 27, 2023 to protest new Saskatchewan government policies requiring schools to seek parental consent when a student under 16 wants to change their name or pronouns. Parents, educators and LGBTQ activists crowded onto the front lawn of the 3502 Taylor Street E. building Sunday at noon to hear speeches, raise signs and shout slogans.

Premier Scott Moe took to social media to cite a July survey by the Angus Reid Institute as demonstrating there’s support for new parental pronoun consent rules in Saskatchewan.

Larissa Kurz, Regina Leader-Post

Premier Scott Moe has cited a recent poll from the Angus Reid Institute as support for the new provincial policy on parental permission to change pronouns in schools, after a week of vocal controversy.

In several posts on social media over the weekend, the premier defended the new Parental Inclusion and Consent policy against criticism, which poured in after Education Minister Dustin Duncan shared it last Tuesday.

The policy requires teachers to seek parent or guardian permission to allow students under the age of 16 to change their preferred name or gender pronouns.

Critics, including Opposition leader Carla Beck who called the policy “disgusting” and transphobic, say it disproportionately targets and isolates LGBTQ+ youth.

Moe said the opposite, taking to social media Saturday to say he has heard “positive responses” to the policy “at every stop these last few days” after the announcement.

He has appeared at events in Balcarres, Oungre, Estevan, Midale and Prince Albert since Tuesday.

Citing poll results from a recent Angus Reid survey published Monday, Moe further pointed out that “just 10 per cent agree with the NDP position that parents should not be informed” of preferred pronoun changes for minors.

The Angus Reid survey was conducted in July, before Saskatchewan released its policy, but questioned respondents on similar changes to Policy 713 made in New Brunswick.

Of Saskatchewan respondents, 36 per cent said parents “must be informed” and 50 per cent said parents must be both informed and give consent, according to a graphic shared by the premier.

Moe said it proves “strong support” in Saskatchewan for the new policy, with “86 per cent in (the province) supporting some level of notification for parents when children want to change their identity in school.”

The study cites a total 3,016 participants across Canada. Of those, eight per cent, or 255 respondents, were from Saskatchewan, while 746 and 603 were from Ontario and Quebec, respectively.

Atlantic provinces were the smallest group, at 307, and as the region is grouped together in the data, it is unclear how many New Brunswick parents were polled.

Over two-thirds of participants identified as parents who do not have children under the age of 18, and more than half were over the age of 45.

Data reports that two-thirds of participants agreed parents should be informed of a child’s desire to change their gender identity at school, but opinion is split on the added detail of consent — 43 per cent said it’s a necessity, and 49 per cent said parents should not be an authority in the decision.

Younger respondents were also twice as likely to say parents should have no say in such a change.

Duncan said Saskatchewan’s policy intends for parents to be more involved in their child’s education and to standardize practices across the province.

Asked who was consulted in development of the policy, the minister said parents expressed concerns to his office that informed the work, but did not specify how many or if experts or LGBTQ+ voices were involved.

“I believe the leading experts in children’s upbringing are their parents,” said a post from Moe on Sunday, in answer to the same question.

Public response, however, has largely heard outcry from voices in the education sector and the LGBTQ+ community.

A rally of hundreds gathered in Saskatoon on Saturday, calling for protection of LGBTQ+ youth. Another is planned for Regina this Saturday, in front of the legislative building.

The provincial child advocate and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association also raised alarms over potential violation of children’s human rights.

Jolene Brown, who sits on the board of Prince Albert Pride, says the new policies are “harming more than helping” by hamstringing teachers’ ability to be supportive of vulnerable youth.

“To me, this policy change is not positive,” said Brown. “It’s putting a cage around teachers, and it’s putting a cage around kids, too. I just can’t imagine how a parent would want that.”

Prince Albert Pride is one of several groups calling on the government to rescind the policy, including the Saskatchewan School Board Association on behalf of the province’s school divisions.

— with files from Julia Peterson