Minister was angry and rude at meeting about LGBTQ-policy review, student says

Logan Martin, a Grade 11 student at Saint John High School, was part of a protest against reviewing a policy designed to protects LGBTQ students.   (Graham Thompson/CBC - image credit)
Logan Martin, a Grade 11 student at Saint John High School, was part of a protest against reviewing a policy designed to protects LGBTQ students. (Graham Thompson/CBC - image credit)

A high school student says a meeting with New Brunswick Education Minister Bill Hogan to discuss Policy 713 left him feeling unheard and disrespected.

Logan Martin met with Hogan to discuss the minister's review of a school policy outlining basic protections for LGBTQ students.

"It was like talking to a wall at times," said the Grade 11 student at Saint John High School. "Like he knew what he wanted, and that's what he would be getting."

Two sections of the policy that are under review affirm students' rights to choose extracurricular sports and use washrooms that align with their gender identity.

A third says a child under 16 must consent before a principal can contact parents to get their permission to make a name change official on school records.


Hogan began reviewing the policy on April 21, suspending funding to training sessions and preventing department staff from giving presentations about it.

On May 5, a group of protesters appeared outside a New Brunswick Teachers' Association career day event, holding signs calling educators "perverts" and sharing debunked conspiracy theories about children using litter boxes in schools. That's when the province confirmed it is reviewing the policy because of "misinterpretations and concerns."

The New Brunswick Women's Council and the province's child and youth advocate have criticized the review process. They called for a suspension until the province can establish a reason for it and set up an official process to consult the people affected.

The minister has so far not done that, and is not required to do that by any rules.

Martin, who identifies as gay, said his message to the minister was that a review is not needed because the policy was developed based on sound data. It also helped him feel safer and more accepted at school, he said.

The minister was 30 minutes late for their meeting in Fredericton on Tuesday, then "argued" with him, Martin said.

"He didn't want to listen to anything anyone was saying. He just had almost like an angry face on, like he would just would rather be anywhere else."

Martin was supposed to have his principal with him, but she got a flat tire, so only he and a friend were at the meeting with the minister in Fredericton.

Policy made school safer after assault

Martin said he was assaulted outside school when he came out in 2019. The next year, Policy 713 came into effect and he saw a real change.

He said staff and teachers were more strict about bullying, especially bullying directed at LGBTQ students. He was initially afraid to go back to school after the assault, but the change in attitude helped him feel safer.

"I expected him to sit there and listen to, you know, the experiences we went through and our statistics," Martin said of the minister. "I didn't expect him to interrupt and yell over top of me.

"He was just very rude."

The Department of Education has previously said Hogan would not be commenting on the review or the consultations underway until the results are shared in the first week of June.

Gender expression leads to 'lifestyle'

Martin said the minister kept using the term "lifestyle" when speaking about gay and trans students. He said he explained to the minister this is an inappropriate term because it suggests it's optional to be queer or trans, when no person, including a straight person, chooses their orientation.

"He said that gender expression and identity leads to a 'lifestyle,'" Martin said.

"Whenever I questioned him … He was like, 'well, I have a wife. I'm straight and have a wife, and kids, and grandkids and ride motorcycles, and that's my lifestyle.'"

Martin said the minister did not explain what lifestyle gender expression would lead to and why it would cause him concern.

Martin said after his meeting with Hogan, he joined another meeting with the minister and about six students from different school districts.

Mia Urquhart/CBC
Mia Urquhart/CBC

He said the students all echoed what Martin said about there being no need for a review of the policy.

He said the consensus was that teachers and staff should be better trained to follow the policy, and all washroom facilities should be more private and safe, regardless of who uses them.

Consultation with parents reveals same consensus

The minister has been meeting with different groups as part of the review that started in April. When asked, the Department of Education did not provide a list of who the minister is meeting with this week.

On Monday, he met with chairs of Parent School Support Committees, according to two chairs from different schools.

Colin Curry, the chair of the committee for Liverpool Street Elementary School in Fredericton, said the main consensus was there is no need for a change to the policy.

Curry said the tone of that meeting was respectful, and he's not sure where the minister will land in the end.

"I don't necessarily think the minister brushed off people's concerns with the review," Curry said. "But at the same time, it's hard to feel confident until we actually see proposed wording.

"I think everyone felt at that meeting that the whole review process has been kind of behind closed doors."