First hearing for Sask. LGBTQ2 group lawsuit over government pronoun policy in schools announced

A community organization representing LGBTQ2 people in Regina has filed a lawsuit against the Saskatchewan government over a pronoun policy affecting school children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima

UR Pride and its representatives at Egale Canada and McCarthy Tetrault LLP had their first meeting with the chief justice in Regina Tuesday, as they look to file a lawsuit against the Saskatchewan government over the new pronoun policy being introduced in schools.

The lawsuit centres around the province’s decision to require parental consent when children under 16 years old want to use different names or pronouns at school.

The first hearing has been set for Sept. 19, something Bennet Jensen, the director of legal at Egale Canada, said he is very happy with, as he believes the court case needs to move quickly to help trans students across the province.

“We’re happy that the court has, I think, understood that the issues are so significant that they need to move in a quick fashion,” Jensen said.

Jensen said it is important the hearing will be public, as the policy impacts a lot of people in the general public.

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“We’re talking about the best interests of students in the province and making sure that the public gets to hear the concerns that we have and how we believe rights are being violated,” he said.

And while Jensen is happy the lawsuit is proceeding, he is also very nervous for trans students during the case and while the policy is in place.

“I’m scared of what this will do to gender-diverse students in Saskatchewan,” he said. “I’m scared how they will feel being discussed at the political level in a way that maybe makes them feel like there’s something wrong with them. I’m worried about how they will be placed at risk by being outed or misgendered.”

In the court application, the government of Saskatchewan and all of the province’s 27 school divisions are named as respondents.

The province had no one available for an interview at the time of publishing but released a statement on the situation.

“The Government of Saskatchewan remains committed to implementing the policy it announced on August 22, 2023, which requires parental consent if a student under the age of 16 wants to change their name or pronouns at school,” a statement read.

“The Government maintains its position that parents and guardians have a key role in protecting and supporting their children as they grow and develop and will do everything in its power to protect parental rights.”

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Both sides will have their turn to argue for and against the policy beginning on Sept. 14.

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