A legal challenge against Saskatchewan’s parental rights policy is currently underway. The court has granted joint intervenor status to both a gender dysphoria support group and a parents’ advocacy group. Both groups argue that the best interests of children are protected by their informed parents. The court action was initiated by the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality Gender Diversity (UR Pride), an organization representing LGBT people in Regina. They are seeking to halt the province’s policy that requires schools to obtain parents’ consent before changing the name and pronoun of their children under 16. The court has scheduled a full hearing for November 20-21.
The court previously declined three requests to immediately halt the policy, but it is now considering a final request. The joint application for intervenor status by the gender dysphoria support group and the parents’ advocacy group is based on the principle that children’s constitutional rights are protected by the informed involvement of their parents. The lawyers for UR Pride argue that the province’s policy is discriminatory and violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They claim that the policy could put students at risk and cause irreparable harm to children.
The province opposes the injunction and argues that the policy has been misinterpreted. They state that students who are concerned about obtaining parental consent will be provided with professional counseling at school until they are ready to seek consent. The issue of age is also raised, with the province questioning whether the age for consent should be determined as 16 by the Ministry of Education or somewhere else. Justice Michael Megaw, who heard the injunction application, has reserved his decision. In the meantime, intervenor status has been granted to four organizations.
The gender dysphoria support group emphasizes that parents play an irreplaceable role in understanding possible causes of gender dysphoria in children. They argue that parental involvement, along with competent clinicians, is crucial for protecting a child’s best interests. The parents’ advocacy group believes that parents are the greatest allies and protectors of children. They argue that harm has resulted from school staff addressing issues of gender and sexuality without proper parental involvement.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe stands by his policy and is committed to protecting parental rights. He has stated that the province will do everything in its power to uphold these rights, including potentially using the notwithstanding clause, which allows governments to override certain charter rights for a limited period of time.