Saskatchewan legislature passes pronoun bill in special sitting

By The Canadian Press

A controversial bill on the use of pronouns in schools received final approval in the Saskatchewan legislature Friday.

The new law prevents children under 16 from changing their names or pronouns at school without receiving parental consent. It uses the notwithstanding clause to override sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code.

The governing Saskatchewan Party said the law formalizes policies already in place in many school divisions, and ensures parents are informed about their kids.

“It is the government’s belief that parents are partners in their children’s education,” Dustin Duncan, the minister of Crown Investments Corporation, said in the final debate Friday morning.

The Opposition New Democrats opposed the bill, saying it strips rights from vulnerable people.

“Teachers will have to choose between shoving kids back in the closet or putting them in harm’s way,” NDP Leader Carla Beck said.

In the summer, the province announced a policy requiring consent for pronoun and name changes in schools for students under 16.

Lawyers for UR Pride, a Regina LGBTQ organization, sought an injunction until a challenge could be heard in court later this year. It argued the policy violates Charter rights and could cause teachers to out or misgender children.

A judge granted an injunction at the end of September.

Last week, the Saskatchewan Party government introduced legislation containing the policy, along with the notwithstanding clause.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 20, 2023.

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