A commissioner with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has resigned over the provincial government’s proposed pronoun legislation.
Heather Kuttai said in a letter that the bill requiring parental consent if children under 16 want to change their names and pronouns at school is an attack on the rights of transgender and gender-diverse children.
Kuttai, adding she has a transgender son, said children’s rights must take precedence over parental obligations.
“This decision did not come lightly,” Kuttai said in the letter to Premier Scott Moe. “Removing a child’s rights, in the name of ‘parental rights’ is fundamentally anti-trans and harmful.”
She said if the province passes the legislation with the notwithstanding clause, Saskatchewan will no longer be a place for all children.
“This is something I cannot be a part of, and I will not be associated with a provincial government that takes away the rights of children, especially vulnerable children,” Kuttai said.
Kuttai said research shows LGBTQ youth face a higher risk of abuse, violence and mental health harm, and that it’s a mistake to put teachers in a position of outing a child before they are ready, and that it’s harmful to misgender a child.
“I can’t understand why you and your government would want to be responsible for a system that brings harm to children,” she said.
Kuttai is one of Saskatchewan’s six human rights commissioners and says her resignation is effective immediately.
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The province’s justice minister Bronwyn Eyre said she’s sorry to hear of the resignation.
“We have heard from thousands of parents who are in support of the policy,” Eyre said. “Not everyone will agree with that, and I am sorry to hear that she doesn’t.”
Opposition NDP leader Carla Beck said a resignation like this has not happened in a quarter century, calling it a time for reflection for the government.
Education minister Jeremy Cockrill said the policy is first and foremost to involve parents in their child’s education.
“We fundamentally believe that parents have an important role to play in those conversations, and so when they’re excluded explicitly or implicitly (from those conversations), that’s something that we need to correct and make sure is consistent across all 27 school divisions,” he said.
With files from the Canadian Press.