New Brunswick premier’s discriminatory policy gets deserved rebuke
Kelly Lamrock, New Brunswick’s Child and Youth Advocate, has completed his scathing review of Premier Blaine Higgs’ Progressive Conservative government’s changes to Policy 713, which is supposed to provide a safe space for LGBTQ2S+ students in the province’s schools.
The report was released publicly on Tuesday and is titled On Balance, Choose Kindness (which makes me think it should have been presented by drag queen Mrs. Kasha Davis). It’s a pretty scathing look at how Higgs’ government has disadvantaged queer and trans youth in the province. It bears mentioning that the province’s department of education had no parental complaints on file of instances where a student kept pronouns or preferred names secret when Higgs insisted on these policy changes.
The legislature, as a whole, requested Lamrock conduct the review after Higgs’ government changed the policy that allowed teachers to let students adopt their preferred names and pronouns in a classroom setting, and which required the informed consent of the student before parents were alerted to the changes. That policy was replaced with the requirement to get parental consent for names and pronouns to be adopted, and added the following:
If it is not possible to obtain consent to talk to the parent, the student will be directed to the appropriate professional (i.e. school social worker, school psychologist) to work with them in the development of a plan to speak with their parents if and when they are ready to do so. If it is not in the best interest of the child or could cause harm to the student (physical or mental threat), the student will be directed to the appropriate school professional for support.
Higgs insisted that this was about “parental rights,” a phrase that is often used to cover for homophobic and transphobic concern trolling, and which is once again gaining mainstream momentum under the deceptive slogan of “Leave Our Kids Alone.” And indeed, Lamrock noted that in his call for public comment, there was a “small minority” of responses where there was a call for a broader rollback of LGBTQ2S+ rights and to have protections for gender identity removed from the province’s Human Rights Act, which tells us a lot about why putting these matters up for public debate is hugely problematic for the queer and trans communities.