Premier Scott Moe insisted the province’s education policy on pronouns is inclusive after being asked several questions about the ethics of the policy at the opening of a school in south Regina.
The policy, formally known as the Parental Inclusion and Consent policy, which is currently before the courts, has garnered criticism from the LGBTQ+ community as well as the office of the Children’s Advocate since it was introduced in August.
“This policy is designed to be an inclusive policy,” said Moe. “It’s designed to include parents in their children’s education and what is happening in their children’s school.
“The default position … should not be in any case to exclude the parents from being included in their child’s education.”
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 used at school.
Earlier this month, the Children’s Advocate called the policy discriminatory and that it likely violates human rights codes.
Moe said his government will look at the Children’s Advocate report “very closely” but will still maintain the policy going forward.
“The school divisions are putting together their implementation plans for the policy,” said Moe. “We’ll use the tools that are available to ensure that it is the policy moving forward.”
Moe said that “the majority of parents through the majority of the province” are reaching out to the province voicing their opinion in favour of the pronoun policy.
Last month, Moe cited a poll from the Angus Reid Institute as support for the new provincial policy on parental permission to change pronouns in schools.
Critics, including Opposition leader Carla Beck who called the policy “disgusting” and transphobic, say it disproportionately targets and isolates LGBTQ+ youth.
Some 255 of the respondents out of more than 3,000 who took part in the countrywide poll were from Saskatchewan. Two-thirds of all respondents said they did not have children under the age of 18.
The premier was asked several times about the differentiation between cis-gendered students requesting name changes and trans students doing the same in the policy.
“Whether it be either of those situations or any other situation, what we are looking to do and why this is viewed as being an inclusive policy, is bringing parents close to their children’s education and their children’s school,” said Moe.
“That being said, there needs to be supports that are in place in certain situations and we would expect those supports will arrive with the implementation plans that the schools have may have already completed or ultimately are working on.”