Intervening for parental rights

UR Pride v. Saskatchewan

Intervening for parental rights

UR Pride v. Saskatchewan

The Justice Centre is pleased with the Saskatchewan Court of King’s Bench granting the joint application of Gender Dysphoria Alliance and Parents for Choice in Education to intervene in the court action in which the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality Gender Diversity (UR Pride) seeks to strike down the Saskatchewan Parental Consent Policy requiring schools to receive parents’ consent before changing the name and gender of their children under the age of 16 (Policy).

The full hearing of this case is scheduled for November 20-21, 2023. On September 19, 2023, there was a full day hearing on the UR Pride’s application for a Court order to pause the implementation of the Policy in Saskatchewan schools until a final determination of its constitutionality. The Court had previously declined to grant three requests for an immediate pause of the Policy and is now considering a final request.

Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) is a non-sectarian, not-for-profit citizens’ advocacy organization dedicated to informing, equipping, and mobilizing parents toward an excellent, quality-oriented, choice-driven education system which recognizes the right of children to be protected by their own parents. In its 11-year history, PCE has provided extensive resources for thousands of parents and families to advocate for their children in the school system. PCE has published dozens of columns in print and online media, in addition to talks and workshops on democratic involvement in school boards. PCE supports the capacity of parents and other stakeholders to be responsive to the actual needs of students. PCE has also supported policies that affirm a school’s ability to ensure that all activities, resources and curricula respect the missions of all schools, including public, private, religious and charter schools. PCE opposed Alberta laws and policies that had made it unlawful for teachers and principals to inform parents about what was happening with their own children at school.

Gender Dysphoria Alliance (GDA) was formed in 2021 by two Canadian transmen motivated to correct the narrative about gender dysphoria with concern about errant information in the healthcare and education systems that can negatively impact women, children and the LGB community. Led by Executive Director Aaron Kimberly, a Canadian mental health clinician with experience providing care to transgender and gender-questioning patients, GDA produces evidence-based educational resources about gender dysphoria, seeks to support its members and others experiencing gender dysphoria, produces a regular podcast, publishes articles and stories from members of the gender dysphoria community, networks with similar groups and individuals around the world, attends and participates in conferences related to gender dysphoria, and advocates for appropriate laws and medical standards regarding gender dysphoria. GDA is not formally affiliated with any political party, religious organization or professional association.

PCE Executive Director John Hilton O’Brian remarked: “”We are aware that harm to children–particularly those with existing mental and emotional challenges–has resulted from school staff addressing issues of gender and sexuality without proper parental involvement.” He added that his organization believes that “the greatest allies and protectors of children are their own parents.”

GDA Executive Director Aaron Kimberly states: “As an organization lead by transsexual adults, Gender Dysphoria Alliance believes that departures from sound evidence about gender dysphoria have led to missteps in policy and healthcare in ways that are harmful to persons with gender dysphoria and society generally. The social transition of children without clinical or parental oversight is one such misstep. Social transition is a clinical intervention that isn’t appropriate for every child with gender dysphoria due to the multifaceted, multicausal, and often transitory nature of Childhood Onset Gender Dysphoria. Premature or inappropriate social transition has the potential to concretize gender dysphoria in ways that lead to the medicalization of individuals who would have resolved their cross-sex identification developmentally, without medical interventions. Parents have an irreplaceable role in understanding possible underlying causes of gender dysphoria and/or transgender identity in their children. Their involvement, and the oversight of competent clinicians, is crucial to protecting the child’s best interests. Studies have shown that good child-parent relationships are the leading indicator of a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Conflicts between parents and their kids about matters such as identity and sexuality are opportunities to work with the family unit, to improve understanding and connection.”

Andre Memauri, counsel in this matter for both GDA and PCE states: “The joint submissions of Gender Dysphoria Alliance and Parents for Choice in Education is based on the foundational principle that children’s constitutional rights are protected by the informed involvement of their parents. The Court is facing the argument that requiring schools to have parents’ consent before changing the name and gender of their children violates the constitutional rights of those children. Such an outcome would be harmful to the parent-child and parent-school relationship, and ultimately would undermine the security of the children in this vulnerable group. Only in rare exceptions can excluding parents be justified.  Allowing it to be the rule ignores the general fact that parents act in the best interests of their own children.”

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