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 GreyBrucePride letter head

Comments made by provincial education minister Stephen Lecce reveal policy positions that infringe the human rights of Ontario's students, writes Grey Bruce Pride in an open letter to the minister.

During a press conference announcing upcoming curriculum changes earlier this week, Minister Lecce spoke of the Ford administration's desire to join Saskatchewan and New Brunswick in requiring students under 16 to get parental consent to change their names or pronouns.

Media accounts report the minister's comments:

“I think we understand though that parents must be fully involved and fully aware of what's happening in the life of their children.”

“I mean, often there are health implications, and I think we have to respect the rights of parents and recognize that these can be life-changing decisions, and I think parents want to be involved so that they can support their kids. And I think that's a really important principle that we must uphold.”

“But as I say, as an overarching value system, I really do believe that parents need to be fully aware, fully engaged. And school boards need to be transparent with parents. I mean, they are the legal guardians. They love their kids. They want to be aware of what's happening in the life of their children in their schools.”

Effectively this will force educators to out their queer and trans students to their families with no regard to the student's own wishes and personal boundaries.

Dear Stephen Lecce:

We are writing you with regards to your August 28th comments made during your press conference wherein you stated that you believe Ontario should adopt policies similar to that of New Brunswick and Saskatchewan that would remove rights of 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ Students by notifying their guardians if they utilize different pronouns or names at school, regardless of the consent of the youth.

While you go on to state that parents and guardians love their children and that teachers can ascertain whether a youth faces danger from home, respectfully, that does not stand.

How many times do we hear horror stories where individuals are revealed to have harmed others but seemed like a "perfectly normal, law-abiding citizen." You cannot safely assume individuals' private lives.

As our local community supports, we are aware of the dangers youth and adults continue to face from their families (and community at large).

Many of our youth members report emotional, physical, and verbal abuse along with neglect from their family members upon coming out or being outted. Many of our 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ youth have also been kicked out of their family homes.

The increase of self-harm amongst 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ Youth while isolated at home during the peak of the COVID Pandemic is a perfect reflection of the harm that families can do when they reject their children due to the gender and/or sexual identity. This action endangers our youth who have already endured enough at a young age.

Locally, our Children and Family Services are looking for suitable foster homes for 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ youth who have been refused and rejected, or deemed unsafe by the provincial courts to remain within their familial homes.

For you to blatantly state parents and guardians will act in the best interests of the children, is to disregard community agencies and governments decrying a national emergency amongst our 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ Community who have faced an increase of hatred including from their own homes.

The Legislation's 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ Critic, Kristyn Wong-Tam, even boldly announced that in their youth, they were rejected from their family home and left homeless following coming out to their family.

Our youth are protected under the human rights code to have self-automony. Your very comments infringe upon our youth's human rights. It cannot be put simpler than that. 

If you are stating that this is your political party's stance, then be aware that you, Stephen Lecce, and your Conservatives, stand against both the Human Rights Code of Canada, and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Youth mental health is of the utmost importance.

Our 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ Youth have revealed that 50% of them have self-harmed or survived a suicide attempt. They deserve the space to navigate their bodies and lives on their own time.

Often their schools provide access to informal and formal supports along with peers that can be a safe-haven for them as they navigate their mental health which often results from being oppressed by our system and marginalized in our cis-normative and hetero-normative society. 

This policy change is a further system of oppression that you are wielding over the safety of our youth.

It is both wreckless and dangerous, in addition to disregarding the heavily researched and studied human rights which are enforced at the highest levels of law within national and international courts.

Personal preference and biases touted as provincial policy is dangerous and demonstrate an utter disregard of our hard-won rights.

Furthermore, this inference of policy change comes without public opportunity for input.

Accordingly, should this be placed as policy unilaterally, it can be expected that similar to New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, that Ontario with face a public opposition and national and international outcry due to the endangerment that this policy brings to our 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ youth. 

We also stand with Unifor as their national president clearly states, "By dragging Ontario schools into this culture war, Minister Lecce is proving that Ontario’s PCs are just like any other Tories – ready to throw trans kids under the bus to distract from policies that have decimated public services, including education.”

We stand with our national and provincial pride networks of Ontario and Canada in urging you not to adopt policies that fundamentally oppose and undermine our 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ students who deserve safety and inclusivity within their schools to support their well-being, allowing them to learn in a safe and healthy environment.

They are in need of protective measures and policies. 

GreyBrucePride logo tagWe would welcome further discussions regarding 2S-LGBTQQIAP+ policies within Ontario Schools. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Grey Bruce Pride

dated August 29, 2023


source: Grey Bruce Pride



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