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Ministry of Education guide on gender identity 'abusive' and 'illegal', says teacher

Photo: Chris Ryan Getty Images According to the suit, the school notified teachers that a 14-year-old student wanted to be referred to by the pronoun “he” at school, but wanted the pronoun “she” to continue to be used. in discussions with his parents and in his school reports.

The Ministry of Education's guide on sexual and gender diversity is “abusive”, “irrational” and “illegal”, alleges a Montreal teacher who says she was threatened with dismissal for refusing to hide the gender of her a student to his parents.

The third-year secondary school teacher, whose name and place of work are protected by the courts, filed a $10,000 lawsuit against Quebec in Superior Court at the end of December, saying having suffered “intense and prolonged stress” due to this story.

According to the suit, the school notified teachers in October 2023 that a 14-year-old student now wanted to be referred to by the pronoun “he” at school. In a message cited in the court document, it is written that the student nevertheless wishes the pronoun “she” to continue to be used in exchanges with his parents and in his school report cards.

The teacher in whose name the lawsuit was filed said she “renewedly notified the school administration that she objected to the procedure, to the extent that it required hiding [the student’s] transition ] to his parents in the absence of indications of abuse.” In response, the school first suggested canceling a planned meeting between the teacher and the student's parents.

The management then allegedly sent the teacher a message, which is cited in English in the lawsuit. “From a legal point of view, […] it is strictly prohibited to disclose the gender identity of a student aged 14 or over to parents at school, unless explicit consent has been obtained. If a teacher or staff member refuses to comply with protocol, it will be deemed a serious violation of the law and school policy, in addition to being a serious act of insubordination, all of which are situations grounds for justified dismissal”, it is written there.

The document does not say whether the teacher actually lost her job. Rather, it is written that she suffered “intense and prolonged stress and loss of enjoyment of life (leisure, interpersonal relationships, etc.).”

The lawsuit also alleges that the teacher's “freedoms of conscience and expression” were violated, for which she is seeking $10,000 in damages. The process before the courts is led by lawyer Olivier Séguin and the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms. This organization argues in particular that “parents have the responsibility and the right to educate their own children” according to what they consider to be “in their best interest”.

An “imposed secret” on teachers

Me Séguin argues that the school, a private English-speaking establishment, has adopted a policy on names and pronouns which stems from the guide “For better consideration of sexual and gender diversity”, created for schools by the Ministry of Education in 2021.

According to the lawsuit, this guide, and indeed the school's policy, “contravenes parental rights” guaranteed by the Canadian and Quebec charters. The court document notably asserts “the right [of parents] to be involved in fundamental decisions” which concern their children.

The lawsuit also attacks the “secrecy imposed on teachers,” since it contravenes the teacher’s principles of “freedom of conscience and expression.” “The obligation imposed on [the teacher] to deliberately keep parents in ignorance of a fact of capital interest, which amounts to lying to them, is irreconcilable with her vocation as a teacher and [with] her sense of duty to its students, to whose welfare their parents are devoted,” it is written.

In the opinion of the prosecutors, the Civil Code and the Access to Information Act “clearly support the obligation of disclosure to parents”. The ministry's guide and the school's procedure would therefore govern the behavior of teachers “in defiance of applicable law, available scientific and technical knowledge, and the professional skills and traditional prerogatives of teachers themselves.” This same guide, according to the prosecutors, violates rights protected by charters, infringes “the parents' right to freedom” and the teacher's “freedoms of conscience and expression.” To do this, the lawsuit asks the Court to declare that the ministry's guide is “abusive, irrational, ultra vires [beyond] the powers of the minister, therefore illegal.”

The office of the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, did not wish to comment on the case “at this stage” since it has been brought to justice.

The Civil Code indicates that “a request to change the sex designation of a minor child may be made by the minor himself if he is aged 14 and over”. He also emphasizes that “the request follows the same procedure as the request for a change of name, except with regard to its publicity.” In the case of changes of name, “with respect to a minor child”, these are not granted “if, as the case may be, the father and mother or the parents of the minor child as guardians “legal guardians, the guardian, if applicable, or the minor aged 14 and over have not been notified of the request or if one of these persons objects to it”, it is written in the Civil Code.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116