The vast majority of respondents to a nonscientific DiscoverEstevan poll oppose the province's use of the notwithstanding clause to protect its Parents' Bill of Rights.
The online poll, used to gather feedback from the public, received 349 responses when it closed at 11 a.m. Friday (while limiting responses to one per Google account), with 80.4 per-cent opposing the legislation, 18.4 per cent approving, and 1.2 per cent unsure.
The bill was passed in the Saskatchewan Legislature Friday morning.
It requires parental permission for teachers to use another name or other pronouns for students younger than 16.
Responses criticizing the law
Many respondents said the law could be harmful to children living in unsupportive households. The Saskatchewan Party government was also heavily criticized for infringing on children's rights, making a political issue out of something that doesn't affect many people, and not concentrating on more pressing issues.
Here are some of those responses (some of the following quotes have been taken from longer answers).
"99% of people involved in this discourse will never be affected by this policy. The fact that Scott Moe has made this about "parental rights" instead of a charter violation or the rights of children is because they want to maximize the amount of people who feel affected by this political topic in manner that promotes their partisan position."
"It is the parents responsibility to maintain and develop the relationship with their children and this bill does absolutely nothing to either encourage that to develop or require that to be present," said another.
"This is a blatant and unjustifiable violation of the rights of an unpopular minority that serves no purpose other than to divide people. There are more important problems for the government to worry about than how trans and gender diverse people choose to navigate coming out."
"The notwithstanding clause is suspending the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Saskatchewan Human Rights code. It is also removing the normal duration of time for policy review and public scrutiny, thus undermining healthy democratic process. The escalation of this policy as a wedge issue is a charade to mask broader issues in the education system and pandering to political interest groups rather than effective governance by the electorate."
"It is hard enough for these children to come out to their parents. If you pass this bill you will make it more difficult for them. I have a transgender son who use to be my daughter at birth and I have gone through the total transformation with him. He is now 40 and came out to me in grade 9. Not all parents are as supportive as I was. He is now the person he was suppose to be. Leave them alone, they will come out to their parents when ready."
"If parents want to know what's going on with their children then they need to work to make home a safe place for their children. This is also just a dog whistle for anti LGBTQ rights and the first step towards more transphobic and homophobic laws. If the Sask Party feels like it needs to use the notwithstanding clause to remove rights from CHILDREN what will they do to remove rights from queer adults?"
"Trans kids exist and they deserve to be safe and protected. If there is any reason to believe that a child would be harmed by a parent, guardian, or anyone else due to their gender identity being revealed then it is in the school’s best interest to ensure that child’s safety first and foremost."
"Because individual rights of the child should take precedence over anything else. Also - we should NOT be banning experts in sexual health and sexual assault from schools."
"It contravenes section 28 in regards to section 33"
"If a parent is abusive their child can be taken from them. Why try to force that to happen? Trans kids already have a high suicide rate, this will not help."
Responses in favour of the legislation
Respondents who approve of the legislation stressed the importance of parents in their children's lives.
Here is some of the support for the law that was voiced:
"Children that identify as transgender are at higher risk of mental health issues, I don't believe keeping parents out of the conversation regarding their childs gender and mental health is actually doing any long term benefit to the child. Parents should be informed and if the child doesnt feel safe in doing so then they should be referred to further supports."
"It is the most safe and ethical decision keeping in mind the young lives of kids. Parents deserve to be aware of and involved in massive life changing decisions like that on behalf of their children. Kids aren’t allowed to drive, drink, donate organs, etc because they are not able to make those decisions due to lack of brain development. They are also not able to decide on their identity on their own for the same reasons."
"The government should have as little say as possible in the raising any Canadian child, no matter where they are from or what culture they are a part of the government should not be aloud to make these kinds of choices for kids without parental consent. A 17 year old can’t even go on a field trip to a potential college/university without a permission slip being signed why not ? Why can’t a 15 year old get a tattoo ?"
"I think parents should always be notified or communicated with in regards to their children. Therefore being able to communicate better with their children and have better conversations with them o topics that may seem overwhelming. But it is NEVER the teachers job to hide, encourage or otherwise! They are there to teach!"
"Because kids should not be left to navigate incredibly complex issues (that adults can't even agree on), by themselves."
You can read the Saskatchewan government's release on the legislation being passed here.
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