2018 Essay Contest – Compelled Speech and Gender-Neutral Pronouns

2018 Essay Contest – Compelled Speech and Gender-Neutral Pronouns

Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, was passed into law by the Parliament of Canada in June 2017. This law amends the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has stated that refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity, or purposely misgendering, will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code, including employment, housing and services like education. As gender identity legislation and policies are being instituted across Canada, there are concerns that freedom of expression rights could be impeded by Bill C-16 and similar provincial statutes across Canada.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms asks students at Canadian colleges universities to answer (in 2500 words or less) the following question:

Should Canadians be required by law to use gender-neutral pronouns? Why or why not?


1st – $1,500           2nd – $1,000           3rd – $500



This contest is open to students currently enrolled at Canadian colleges and universities, and to those who will be entering post-secondary studies in September 2018.



The deadline to submit essays is October 31, 2018. Submit your essay using the form below, or email it to mkennedy@jccf.ca.


Judging Panel

Essays will be reviewed and marked by an esteemed panel of judges, including Andrew Lawton (Waterloo), Danny Hozack (Calgary), Barbara Kay (Montreal), Nigel Hannaford (Calgary), John Robson (Toronto), Norm Machida (Calgary), Sam Goldstein (Toronto), Robert Donick (Kelowna) and Jared Brown (Toronto).

The contest submission deadline has passed. Thank you for your interest. Please try again next year.