Four Provinces Take Steps to Further Include Parents in Children’s Gender Identity Changes
In the last few years, the month of June and then the entire month of July have been designated “pride month” or even “pride season.” This celebration of same-sex sexual activity and transgender identities is one of the obvious signs that our country has increasingly abandoned a Christian view of gender and sexuality.
But this summer, we saw signs of hope.
Premier Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick took the first step. Earlier this year, his government changed Policy 713, which laid out the province’s policy on sexual orientation and gender identity matters in public schools. It made three substantial changes:
- Students under the age of 16 had to get their parents’ permission to change their name on official school documentation. Students who were unwilling to talk to their parents about a change in their gender identity would be referred to a professional (e.g. a social worker) to help them speak to their parents about their transition.
- Wording that allowed students to participate in extracurricular activities “consistent with their gender identity” was dropped, presumably to give schools greater leeway to limit participation in extracurricular activities based on biological sex.
- It mandated that every school must have a private universal changing area and washroom.
The first change in particular – requiring students under the age of 16 to get parental consent for their name change in the school – is a big win for the principle that parents have the responsibility to raise and educate their children. Before this change, it was common for students to socially transition at school (e.g. change their name, use new pronouns, or dress as the opposite sex) but keep this transition hidden from their parents at home. Premier Higgs had specifically mentioned the skyrocketing rates of rapid onset gender dysphoria as a justification for the policy. Rapid onset gender dysphoria refers to when someone, typically a teenage girl, very suddenly identifies as transgender.
A couple of months later, Saskatchewan followed suit, also requiring that parental consent for students under the age of 16 to change their pronouns, name, or gender identity in school. Premier Scott Moe took to social media to explain himself: “I’ve been asked what experts we consulted in creating the Parental Inclusion and Consent policy. I believe the leading experts in children’s upbringing are their parents.”
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, in the midst of a provincial election, also is campaigning to review and update the province’s policies around parental involvement in their children’s education.
The Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce also recently announced that the government of Ontario was also planning to change their school policies so that parents could be more involved in the education of their children.
While many media reports and LGBTQ2S+ groups have decried these changes, recent survey data suggests that these changes are in line with popular opinion. Forty-three percent of Canadians believe that parents should be informed and give their consent for a school to recognize their child’s new name, pronouns, or gender identity. A further 35% agree that parents should at least be notified of these changes. A mere 14% of Canadians think that children should be able to identify however they want without their parents knowing or consenting.
Why is this all important?
These developments are a long-awaited step away from governments’ unquestioning embrace of transgenderism and towards regaining parental control over education. Christians should celebrate these changes and either thank elected officials for making this change or petition their own provincial representatives to follow New Brunswick’s, Saskatchewan’s, and Ontario’s example.
Those who support a policy to keep a child’s gender identity secret from parents are saying, in effect: “We don’t trust parents to know what is best for their kids. The home isn’t the safest place for children to be. Lots of moms and dads are ignorant and abusive towards their children and so public school staff, rather than parents, should be entrusted with guiding children through such intimate matters.”
There are a host of problems with that mentality, but let’s just point out two. First, nearly all parents know and love their children more than any teacher will. Second, God has given the primary responsibility and authority over children to parents because God designed children to be born to one man and one woman who are committed to each other in a loving relationship. Teachers, government bureaucrats, or even pastors don’t inherently have this authority or responsibility because children are not fundamentally entrusted to them. Our law even recognizes that teachers act on authority delegated by parents. Delegated authority, of course, can be revoked.
However, we should also fully understand how long a road is before us. For example, New Brunswick’s Policy 713 still states that:
- A school needs a student’s consent to speak to a parent about a name change for official purposes,
- Parental consent is not needed to use the child’s preferred name for unofficial purposes, or to use the child’s preferred pronouns,
- All schools are required to have a designated staff member as an LGBT+ advocate,
- A student’s participation in a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) does not require parental consent,
- Access to facilities, including washrooms, continues to be determined according to gender self-identification rather than biological sex, and
- Sex is “assigned at birth,”
New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have initiated these policy changes not so much because their cabinet ministers actually believe that a transgender identity is wrong. We can be thankful that they have taken a step towards recognizing the responsibilities that parents have in the lives of their children. But we should also encourage our political leaders and fellow citizens to consider the equally fundamental question of where our sexual and gender identity comes from. Are these identities received from God? Or are they up to individual choice?