Canadian Civil Liberties Association Files Lawsuit Against New Brunswick’s Changes to School Gender-Identity Policy

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has initiated a lawsuit against New Brunswick’s revision to its school gender-identity policy. The lawsuit is in response to Education Minister Bill Hogan’s decision to modify Policy 713, which now mandates staff to obtain parental consent before using chosen names and pronouns for children under 16.

According to Hogan, parents have the right to determine the most suitable pronouns for their children. They should also have control over the name and pronoun used by teachers and staff during verbal communication, regardless of the child’s preferences. Hogan further emphasized that teachers could face disciplinary action if they grant a child’s request for a specific name and pronoun and the parents raise concerns.

The CCLA has filed court documents requesting a judge to review and invalidate these changes, asserting that they infringe upon the charter and human rights of LGBTQ children. Additionally, the association asks for a court order compelling the province to revise the policy and prohibiting the prohibition of a child’s chosen name or pronoun without parental consent.

The lawsuit alleges that the revised Policy 713 obligates teachers and school staff to misgender or deadname students, even when school social workers and psychologists advise against it. It also criticizes the Minister’s decision-making process as flawed and unfair, suggesting bias.

It is important to note that these allegations have not yet undergone court testing, and the province has not submitted a statement of defense. The filing made by the CCLA marks the initial step in a lengthy legal process. The association, not directly impacted by the policy, must demonstrate “public interest standing” in addition to proving the main allegations.

Other educational councils, both francophone and anglophone, have previously sought legal opinions on suing the province concerning the policy changes. New Brunswick was the first province to address the issue of self-identification in schools. Similar policies have since been introduced in Saskatchewan, where legal action is also being pursued.