“We all want kids to have a welcoming and accepting family, but we know some of them aren’t safe at home.”
That’s the main reason North Grenville Pride is against informing parents when a student changes what pronouns or name they go by at school, according to Queen of Communications Fiona McKenney.
Late in August, Education Minister Stephen Lecce spoke at a press conference and said parents should be told if their child chooses to go by a different pronoun at school. Premiere Doug Ford echoed similar sentiments at an event in September.
Earlier this year, both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick adopted new gender and pronoun policies that made it so parental consent is needed for students under the age of 16 to change their given names and/or pronouns at school.
When contacted last week by the Vista Radio newsroom, a spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford’s office says the government is not planning any legislation that will force teachers to disclose information to parents.
“[Premier Doug Ford] and [Education Minister Stephen Lecce] have both been clear they believe parents must be involved and informed of what is happening in their children’s lives,” said Caitlin Clark. “There are well-established protocols to ensure the safety of children. We’re confident in the existing protocols and are not currently exploring any legislative changes. Parents love their kids. They want to be aware of what’s happening in their children’s lives in their schools, and we expect school boards to be transparent with parents and respect their right to know about life-changing decisions while always ensuring the safety of the child.”
McKenney says outing children when they tell a teacher will lead to kids not feeling comfortable going to anyone for help, which can lead to an increased risk for suicide.
“I think if you have the type of family that has an open and honest relationship with their children,” she says, “they’re not going to want to keep that a secret from you, or maybe they just need help from a teacher coming to you, to tell you.”
If your child is struggling or experimenting with their gender or sexual identity, McKenney says they can contact North Grenville Pride or the North Grenville Rainbow Youth Alliance for help.
She’s also encouraging parents to contact her organization to learn more about how to help and support their kids.