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New Brunswick Premier Blaine HiggsYouTube screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — It is notable that in much of the Anglosphere and some European countries, the agenda of the transgender movement has been a subject of fierce debate. In the U.K. and Scandinavia, the “affirmative model” – including “social transitioning” – is being reconsidered, with Norway considering reclassifying “sex change” surgeries and cross-sex hormones for minors as “experimental treatments” rather than “gender-affirming care.” In the U.S., of course, the debate is raging in state legislatures across the country.  

But debate on the issue has been almost entirely absent from Canada, where the transgender movement has taken over every major institution and the premises of gender ideology have been accepted virtually without question. 

Any pushback to gender ideology has been largely relegated to a handful of alternative media platforms and a few dissident journalists. In fact, a recent report on children being socially transitioned by school staff without parental knowledge in the National Post noted that:

In Canada the issue isn’t being debated – it’s already been decided upon by schools, education officials and bureaucrats without parents getting a look in. A background document from the Public Health Agency of Canada states, ‘It is important not to involve the parents/caregivers of gender variant youth unless the youth themselves have already disclosed their identity to their families.’ It was the agency who emphasised the ‘not’ by bolding it.

But in a welcome first, one province may finally be moving to change that. On June 8, New Brunswick Education Minister Bill Hogan announced the Progressive Conservative government’s reform to Policy 713, which is the province’s policy on sexual orientation in schools. Now, students under the age of 16 who identify as “transgender” or “non-binary” will not be permitted to formally change their names or pronouns in school without parental consent. From CTV News 

Policy 713, which was introduced in 2020, establishes minimum standards for schools to ensure a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBTQ students. The new policy says the preferred first names and pronouns of students aged 16 and older will be used consistently in ways that the students request.

The three changes included in the reform are as follows: 

‘Transgender or non-binary students under 16 will require parental consent in order for their first preferred name to be officially used for recordkeeping purposes.’ If consent isn’t possible, the student will be directed to ‘the appropriate professional to work with them in the development of a plan to speak with their parents when they are ready to do so.’ For students over 16, ‘school personnel will consult with a transgender or non-binary student’ ‘to determine their preferred first name and pronoun(s).’

‘Private universal changing areas will be available in all schools.’

‘All students will be able to participate in curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities that are safe and welcoming.’

Again – and this is so important to understand – when LGBT activists and their allies talk about ensuring “minimum standards” for “a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment” they are talking about keeping children safe from their parents. The view of the Canadian government as articulated by the Public Health Agency of Canada and shared by almost every provincial government in the country is that school staff and government employees are better equipped to look out for the best interests of children than their parents are. Children dealing with any number of issues unknown to staff could thus choose to change their identity for any number of reasons without their mothers or fathers being told.  

Despite the common sense nature of the reform, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is taking heat from his own party for backing parental rights, with eight of his MLAs boycotting legislature proceedings the morning of the press conference including cabinet ministers Dorothy Shephard, Trevor Holder, Daniel Allain, Arlene Dunn, Jeff Carr, Jill Green, and backbenchers Ross Wetmore and Andrea Anderson-Mason, who with no sense of irony claimed they wanted to highlight their “extreme disappointment in a lack of process and transparency.” Liberal leader Susan Holt and Green Party leader David Coon stated that they would vote to bring down the government if given the opportunity.  

Holt went so far as to explicitly state that the rights of children and their parents are fundamentally in conflict. “The responsibility is to put in place well-crafted policies that protect New Brunswickers, and that’s not what happened here,” she said during Question Period.

“Here we have a government that appears to have chosen the rights of the parent over the rights of the child. There’s a legal principle that it’s in the best interest of the child that trumps all. You’re putting teachers in an extremely challenging position under a dangerous notion of public trust to choose a parent’s right over a child’s right. We need the government to stand up and protect 2SLGBTQIA+ students. Will the minister fix the policy so it does that?” 

Megan Mitton, an MLA from the Green Party, went even further: “What is this minister even talking about? Has he listened to any of the experts? Has he listened to anyone in Pride in Education, the child and youth advocate, the women’s council, all of the pride groups? All of the trans and non-binary students? Their parents, who are saying their lives are at risk? This is absolutely unacceptable, and I really hope everyone in this house, including on that side, will stand up against this nonsense. It’s beyond nonsense. It’s harmful. There are lives at risk.” 

Read that well: Mitton is claiming that the government should have consulted virtually everyone but parents, and is insisting that many parents pose a threat to the lives of their children. Premier Higgs, to his credit, is refusing to back down. “It could potentially force an election, that’s a possibility,” he said. “It’s not [outside] the realm of possibility. I believe that strongly in the case of finding a solution here where we do not exclude parents in their child’s life.” He noted that he worked as a principal and teacher for 35 years, and that this “is not a topic that needs grandstanding and not supporting parents’ rights.”  

If the premier loses several of his MLAs over the issue, an election is likely. New Brunswick’s reform is not only a small step in the right direction – hopefully, it will be a catalyst for a badly-needed discussion and debate in Canada that has simply not occurred.

New Brunswick’s government did something unique here – they actually consulted parents and families about a policy that directly impacted the health and well-being of their children. That, if you ask me, constitutes a “minimum standard” of safety for families.  

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.