Minister of Education Bill Hogan is responding to an advocate’s scathing report by making it clear that the school policy on gender identity applies to both formal and informal name changes.
In a hastily called news conference on Wednesday, Hogan said the mandate to get consent from parents before using the chosen name and pronoun of a child under 16 now also extends to using the name and pronoun verbally in the classroom.
Earlier changes to Policy 713 were not clear on informal pronoun and name use. The policy, since it was implemented in 2020, has always required parental consent for name changes on official records for students under 16.
Hogan said this addresses “all” of Child and Youth Advocate Kelly Lamrock’s concerns with the policy. Lamrock, after consulting parents and experts for two months, previously said the policy violates provincial education, privacy and human rights laws, and children’s Charter rights by allowing parents to “veto” their children’s chosen pronouns, limiting the child’s right to privacy, accommodation and expression.
Policy 713 was introduced in 2020 to guarantee minimum support for LGBTQ students, including ensuring that teachers use students’ preferred pronouns and that gender-neutral washrooms are available.
In April, Hogan announced the department would review the policy. Both he and Premier Blaine Higgs said the review was triggered by complaints from parents.
In June, Hogan said he changed Policy 713 to make it mandatory to deny a request from a child under 16 to use a specific name or pronoun unless parents consent.
The review and changes to Policy 713, sparked debate and protests, and even dissent within the Progressive Conservative Party.
They also led to an investigation by New Brunswick child and youth advocate. In a report released in June, Kelly Lamrock slammed the changes and called on the government to reverse them.