Gender identity guidelines getting pushback from some P.E.I. parents
Gender identity guidelines that were rolled out in P.E.I. schools just over a year ago are getting pushback from some Island parents.
There's a petition calling for the guidelines to be removed, and a plan to raise concerns at Morell Consolidated's next home and school association meeting.
The provincial guidelines are aimed at ensuring schools are safe and welcoming for all students, and that children's and staff members' sexual orientations and gender identities are respected.
For example, some of the best practices mentioned in the guidelines include:
Ensuring dress codes respect an individual's gender identity and gender expression.
Reducing gender-segregated activities and gender-specific language.
Providing safe access to washroom and changing room facilities.
Preventing and responding to bullying behaviour.
The guidelines (see external link below) were developed over the course of about a year, and the public was invited to have input.
P.E.I. Education Minister Natalie Jameson signed off on the guidelines in December 2021. But now, it seems some people are getting organized to try to have the guidelines scrapped.
According to a meeting agenda for Morell Consolidated's home and school association, some members plan to raise concerns at the next meeting. The agenda includes a link to a proposed resolution to be submitted to the P.E.I. Home and School Federation.
The association had a meeting scheduled for this past Monday, but it was cancelled earlier in the day.
Proposed resolution and petition
The resolution states in part that, "the Minister provide scientific evidence justifying the need for implementing the Gender Diversity Guidelines; and even if, in the opinion of the Minister, these Guidelines are justified, the Minister will recognize that parents, assuming their moral responsibility to act as the primary educators of their children, will decide whether or not their children will participate in this program."
There's also a petition being circulated calling for the guidelines to be dropped.
The petition says that the guidelines do not respect all children and their right to be educated "in an environment free of ideological influences that contradict their family's ethnic, cultural, religious, health, or moral values."
CBC News tried to find out who is behind the petition and proposed resolution in order to seek an interview. However the members of Morell Consolidated's home and school association CBC News was able to reach said they were not able to share any names or comment on the situation.
'I'm feeling hurt'
The pushback against the guidelines isn't sitting well with Lucky Fusca, executive director of the P.E.I. Transgender Network.
"I'm feeling hurt, disappointed, a little bit confused as to what is being put forward," said Fusca.
They said they want politicians and parents to speak out and get involved in home and school meetings, so that it's clear most Islanders support the guidelines and all students.
Fusca said they are very concerned about students.
"I'd like to maintain hope that this is really an opportunity for us to address the hate that is being organized and move forward — be it through education or other modalities to call people in to a place of understanding and love."
Fusca said they've had several people reach out to them about this, and they are distressed about it.
The call is to step up … to call on government officials and bodies of influence to be vocal about this ... saying, "You are not alone. And the majority does not feel this way." — Lucky Fusca
"We're really working towards calling to action to make sure folks don't feel any more isolated, especially in rural areas, than they already do," they said.
"The suicidality rates in the trans community are profoundly higher than that of our cis[gender] counterparts. So the call is to step up, and to call on our allies to be vocal about this, to call on government officials and bodies of influence to be vocal about this ... saying, 'You are not alone. And the majority does not feel this way,'" they said.
P.E.I.'s Public Schools Branch shared a similar sentiment on social media Monday.
In a post it said, "While a parent is able to bring an agenda item or motion forward, this does not mean it is reflective of the entire school community or its staff... We will continue to strive towards creating a more diverse and inclusive community in all our schools and ensure that every student feels safe and welcomed."
Not a program or curriculum
In response to questions from CBC News, the Public Schools Branch could not provide anyone to do an interview.
Howeverm the PSB said in an email: "There seems to be confusion about what the guidelines are. Similar guidelines exist in every province in Canada.
"The guidelines provide the PSB and CSLF (La Commission scolaire de langue française) with direction on how to address situations that arise to ensure we are upholding the human rights of students and treating students with dignity, respect and support.
"The guidelines are not a program for students or a curriculum."