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Sask. LGTBQ2S+ group mounts court challenge to stop school 'outing requirement'

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A Saskatchewan LGTBQ2S+ organization has made good on its threat to launch legal action in the hopes of blocking the provincial government's new policy on pronoun changes in schools.

On Aug. 22, Saskatchewan's education minister announced that students under the age of 16 seeking to use a different name or pronoun must obtain parental consent. The move has been widely criticized by LGBTQ2S+ advocates and is currently under review by the provincial government's youth advocate.

Earlier this week the University of Regina Pride Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity (UR Pride) said it would take the matter to court if the policy change wasn't walked back by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

With the deadline passing, UR Pride has filed its paperwork at Regina's Court of King's Bench with the assistance of Egale, which is a national LGBTQ2S+ organization, and McCarthy Tétrault LLP, aToronto-based law firm.

In its application, UR Pride asks the court for an interim order to freeze the new pronoun policy until its legal application can be fully reviewed.

The UR Pride application argues that the consent policy — referred to in the court filing as an "outing requirement" — violates section seven of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees security.

"The policy presents an impossible choice; be outed at home or be misgendered at school, even in one-on-one counselling sessions with school personnel," the application says.

"The policy represents a dramatic and regressive change from existing practices."

UR Pride also asks the court to rule that the prohibition against using preferred names and pronouns in schools should have "no force and effect" because, as the application claims, it effectively constitutes a "law" and that schools "have no discretion regarding the use of a student's preferred pronouns."

In its application, UR Pride, cites a recent message posted on X, formerly Twitter, as evidence that Premier Scott Moe "admitted the lack of expert consultation."

In the Aug. 27 message, Moe says he's been asked what experts the government consulted before the policy shift.

"I believe the leading experts in children's upbringing are their parents," Moe said.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Moe said the policy is inclusive and “designed to include parents in their child's school.”

When asked about the legal filing on Friday, the Saskatchewan government responded with a statement that did not directly adress the UR Pride's application to the court.

"The Government of Saskatchewan remains committed to implementing the policy it announced," the statement said.

The statement said the government "will do everything in its power to protect parental rights."

 

 

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