The UCP have engaged in “active conversation” with Albertans on parental rights but appear no closer to tabling official policy — whether it be optional guidance or binding rules.
Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides lauded the need for consistency on whether educators and school administrators should seek parental consent when a student changes their name and pronouns.
“There’s concerns as well, I know, from school boards and school divisions,” he said Tuesday at the legislature. “We had, of course, that million march for kids […] so I think it’s something that’s important for [the] government to examine.”
In the province, school boards, charters and independent schools set policies about how to handle requests from ‘gender-diverse’ students.
According to the CBC, policies on parental consent vary across Alberta. While Calgary Catholic Schools require parental consent to change a student’s name, other divisions stipulate that students decide how they are addressed.
“There’s a lot of variances,” said Nicolaides, pondering the utility of the government providing more guidelines to schools — a policy that has stirred controversy and debate from the general public for years.
Premier Danielle Smith says she’s taking a “wait and see approach” on Calgary’s protest-restricting bylaws, noting it’s a difficult balance between age-appropriate content for kids, parental choice and the right to peacefully protest.https://t.co/zc7g2IcjLX pic.twitter.com/DS2zl5HPBi
— Rebel News (@RebelNewsOnline) March 27, 2023
On October 17, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told True North the UCP’s policy process is one of the measures her cabinet and caucus use in making a decision. However, she stressed they also confer with stakeholders, and talk to the rest of Alberta.
At the 2023 UCP AGM, thousands of party delegates overwhelmingly supported a non-binding policy resolution that students only use a different name or pronoun at school with parental consent.
“Parents, not schools, are the legal guardians of their children,” reads the resolution — an offshoot of legislation passed by governments in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick earlier this year. “Schools should not be in the business of going behind parents’ backs,” it added.
In addition, the education minister is also examining policy on informing parents about sex education or religion lessons, citing ‘inconsistency’ in how parents are notified. Alberta’s Education Act mandates schools to tell parents when their child receives instruction in either topic.
UCP members ‘overwhelmingly’ support parental consent policy
Premier Danielle Smith remains mum on parental rights despite an overwhelming number of delegates demanding action now.
— Rebel News Canada (@RebelNews_CA) November 5, 2023
On Tuesday, Nicolaides said the government has yet to decide whether they will issue guidelines or amend the Education Act, pending the results of their conversations with Albertans.
“I have said that we don’t want to politicize these issues because these issues are very private, family issues,” Smith told the Western Standard — in a bid to strike a balance between supporting students and respecting parental rights.
“We’re trying to avoid turning it into a political hot potato,” she said, referring to the issue as “complicated family matters.”
According to a Leger poll, nearly two-thirds (63%) of Canadians want school administrators to inform them if their children want to use a different pronoun or gender.
A SecondStreet.org-sanctioned poll said 57% of Canadians believe schools should inform parents if their child discusses changing their gender pronouns or transitioning. Only 18% disagreed with this statement, while 25% didn’t know.