Cisgender students are not forced to obtain parental consent when they go by a nickname at school.
The Society of Queer Momentum (Momentum) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the illogical and regressive decision taken by the Government of New Brunswick to amend Policy 713 requiring parental consent for public school students under 16 to change their chosen pronouns or names. This policy change came out of nowhere, without consultation and without evidence demonstrating the past policy - which supported trans students to use their chosen names and pronouns at school - had any issues whatsoever.
For years, queer and trans advocates, civil society organizations and allies have been sounding the alarm about rising anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate, rhetoric, and misinformation. We have warned about efforts to roll back inclusion in schools within a broader agenda to restrict rights and progress for trans and queer people. We have exposed how attacks on 2SLGBTQIA+ acceptance aren’t anomalies, but pushed by a global, deep-pocketed hate movement. For years, we have sounded the alarm. But we have been ignored.
The Government of New Brunswick is the first Canadian government in recent memory to acquiesce to hate and misinformation about trans and 2SLGBTQIA+ people. The amendments to Policy 713 are advancing transphobia and regression while cow-towing to an ideology of hate, shame, and stigma towards trans people.
The changes to Policy 713 send a devastating message of exclusion to trans and gender diverse students. It will force trans students to stay in the closet, may force some students back into the closet, and increase risk of harm to trans young people.
Policy 713 will pressure trans students to come out to their parents before they are ready or be forcibly misgendered and deadnamed by their teachers. When a trans student wants to be correctly gendered at school, comes out to their parents before they’re ready, and is then kicked out of their house, it will be this government’s fault. 20-40% of homeless young people identify as 2SLGBTQIA+. When this happens, you won’t see it in the headlines because they will be just another of many homeless trans teens.
When their home is unsafe, school may be the only place a trans young person feels safe, welcome and accepted. Per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child article 28, schools should be “available and accessible to every child” and create non’discriminatory spaces for all children and youth. Amendments to Policy 713, by denying trans young people the capacity to be their authentic selves and treated respectfully by their teachers and administrators, violates a child’s right to education by creating hostile and unsafe environments. Schools must be bastions of human rights, promote inherent dignity, and create enabling environments for all young people. Policy 713 violates the very principles our schools, and our society, should stand for.
To believe that changing your chosen name or pronouns is of such severity that it requires parental consent exposes a bias against trans and gender diverse students through the assumption that gender diversity and gender exploration are dangerous or harmful. It is based on the assumption that there is something bad or wrong about being transgender. This is the message sent by Policy 713.
Trans and gender diverse students continue to face high rates of harassment and bullying in Canadian schools. In bowing to anti-trans misinformation and bias, amendments to Policy 713 signal that trans students are less deserving of dignity and respect than other students, thereby emboldening bullying and mistreatment of trans and gender diverse students. If your teacher misgenders the trans kid in your classroom, it tells transphobic bullies they can mistreat trans students too. Policy 713 will reinforce stigma and worsen school climates for trans and gender diverse students.
We call upon the Premier of New Brunswick, Minister of Education and all members of Cabinet to:
- Immediately rescind amendments to Policy 713;
- Undertake comprehensive education on 2SLGBTQIA+ identities;
- Develop an action plan on trans and 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion in schools, in collaboration with local 2SLGBTQIA+ and children’s rights experts and;
- Issue an apology to trans students, staff and community members for their actions.
To allies and advocates outside of New Brunswick that wish to support trans and 2SLGBTQIA+ students in the province, we encourage you to support the following organizations: