‘No good way to enforce a bad law’: Retired teacher weighs in on Sask. pronoun policy

A retired teacher who's been working in the field for 30 years weighed in on Saskatchewan's pronoun policy. Global News/ Derek Putz

“We’ve been called pedos and groomers over and over and over again, which is ridiculous,” said Margi Corbett.

Corbett is a retired teacher who’s been working in the field for 30 years and is hoping for teachers to stop being targeted online as Saskatchewan’s pronoun policy gets implemented.

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Dozens of Saskatchewan teachers have signed a petition against the province’s law, which requires parental consent when a student wishes to go by a different name or pronouns in school.

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But despite the pushback, Premier Scott Moe has no intention of rescinding the law.

“There’s no good way to enforce a bad law,” Corbett said.

Moe said on Tuesday that it will be up to school divisions to make sure their employees are following the law, just as any other employer would be expected to enforce rules in their company.

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Moe, however, is not sure what consequences could look like for teachers who choose to ignore the legislation.

“I don’t know what those protocols are, and if they differ between school divisions, but that is an inquiry that we may make at some point, but I haven’t made it yet,” Moe said.

“This is a policy about when a school will recognize a change in name or pronoun or even gender,” Moe said.

“Those are decisions that the parent should be part of before a school ultimately is going to recognize any of those changes.”

Corbett said it was interesting that Moe wanted school divisions to take charge of enforcing the policy even though nobody working in the education sector was consulted on it in the first place.

Moe has mentioned in the past that the people who have been consulted regarding the pronoun policy were parents and MLA’s.

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“It’s already damaging. It’s hurting our most vulnerable kids,” Corbett said.

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She said this is creating some cognitive dissonance for teachers and that this policy goes against a teacher’s code of ethics.

Corbett said teachers have been thrown into this politicized situation with many not wanting to speak on the matter.

“And I don’t blame them.”

When asked how she sees this policy being enforced, she wondered if it even could.

“Realistically I don’t think it can be enforced. I don’t know how else to answer that question, I guess maybe a slap on the wrist?”

Global News tried to answer that same question by reaching out to several school boards across the province as well as the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA).

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Many didn’t respond, others refused to comment, and the SSBA noted that the matter was still technically before the courts.

Corbett said that this situation was both damaging to kids and teachers.

She said teachers and parents have been working together for the best possible outcome for the kids, and she wanted parents to at least try and regain respect for teachers.

“I really hope that there are parents out there who realize that teachers are not evil. Teachers are trying to do their best for students who need support.”

— with files from Andrew Benson

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