Potential lawsuit against Sask.'s school pronoun policy garners national support
Looming legal action against the Saskatchewan government’s pronoun policy has the support of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA).
Egale Canada and law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP penned a letter to Saskatchewan’s education minister on behalf of UR Pride on Tuesday. The group said it is prepared to file a lawsuit in the coming days at the Court of King’s Bench as it believes the government policy violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The policy will cause devastating and irreparable harm to gender diverse students … who do not feel safe coming out at home,” the letter read.
Under the new policy, students under the age of 16 must get parental consent to change their name or pronouns at school.
The CCLA is exploring its own legal action against the New Brunswick government over a similar name and pronoun change policy announced earlier this year.
“In Saskatchewan, we’re concerned about the legality of the new policy. We think it’s important that this policy is challenged,” said CCLA equality program director Harini Sivalingam, adding the group is in support of UR Pride’s legal challenge.
“These policies have a discriminatory impact on trans and gender-diverse students. They target and only apply to them.”
After a review of the policy, New Brunswick’s child and youth advocate found it in violation of children’s rights. Saskatchewan’s advocate is in the process of a similar review of the provincial policy.
Sivalingam said the growing number of organizations exploring legal action “demonstrates the fundamental flaws in these types of policies that restrict and violate students’ rights in schools and they should be carefully evaluated.”
UR Pride is asking the province to suspend the policy until a lawsuit is filed. If the government does not comply by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, UR Pride’s legal counsel will pursue further action and ask the court to grant an injunction that would pause the implementation of the policy until a judge can rule if it is lawful.
CTV News reached out to Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill to confirm if he received the letter. He did not answer the question, but in a statement, the government reaffirmed its position.
“The Parental Inclusion and Consent Policy has the strong support of the majority of Saskatchewan residents, including parents, and our government will not be pausing this policy,” the statement read.
-- With files from Laura Woodward.