Premier Scott Moe is not backing down from the government’s pronoun policy despite calls from teachers worried it violates their code of ethics and a report from the province’s Children’s Advocate that says the policy violates children’s rights.
“I would say they should have discussions with whoever their superiors are on how those policies will be implemented in that particular school division,” Moe said when talking about the concerns of teachers. “All school divisions are looking at how those policies are being implemented on how to support children, ultimately and family by extension.”
The new policy requires children under 16 to seek parental consent if they want to go by a different name or pronoun at school.
The code of ethics requires teachers to “respect the right of students to form their own judgments based upon knowledge” and to “support each student in reaching their highest levels of individual growth across intellectual, social-emotional, spiritual and physical domains.”
Moe said that the policy is designed to be inclusive for everyone.
“It’s designed to include parents in their children’s education and what is happening in their children’s school,” he said. “The default position should not be, and I don’t think it is in many cases, but it should not be in any case to exclude the parents from being included in their child’s education.”
The Premier said despite the Children’s Advocate Report calling the policy “discriminatory,” his government is willing to stand behind it.
“We’ve been clear all along. This is a policy that the government has introduced, and it’s a policy that the government is committed to using whatever tools are necessary so that it is going to be in place, and if that includes having it as a law in the province or piece of legislation in the province, we’re willing to do that.”
Human rights groups have criticized Saskatchewan’s policy, saying it could out children to their parents or cause teachers to misgender them at school if they don’t get permission.
An injunction application recently went before a judge requesting the policy be halted, with the applicant’s lawyers arguing it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The province and Moe argue the policy is meant to include parents when children make decisions about their names and pronouns at school and that a child’s age should also be considered.
“It’s about bringing parents closer to their children’s education,” he said. “The default position should not be to exclude parents from decisions that their children are making. The default position should be that we support those children and ultimately support that relationship between parents, and their child’s education and their child’s life.”
“It’s a policy that is going to bring and foster a more reactive education system here in the province,” Moe continued. “One that has parents much closer to the classroom, much closer to the school than maybe even previously that they have been.”
Moe has said that he’s considering all tools to keep the policy, including the notwithstanding clause, a provision that allows governments to override certain Charter rights for up to five years.
with files from The Canadian Press