Dozens of teachers have signed an online petition calling on Saskatchewan's school divisions to not follow the province's new Parents' Bill of Rights. The new legislation requires students under the age of 16 to have parental consent before changing their name or gender pronouns at school without parental consent.
Premier Scott Moe pushed the bill through the provincial legislature through the notwithstanding clause, allowing the government to override portions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms along with Saskatchewan's Human Rights Code.
Now, a number of educators in the province are saying they are unwilling to follow the rule.
"We will continue to use the practice of letting students have autonomy over their identity and letting students determine who does and doesn't know about their gender disclosure," the petition reads, as reported by The Canadian Press and shared by CBC.
"Part of the process has always been: 'No. 1, thank you for sharing this with me, and No. 2, how can I support you?"' one educator told CP. "I think that respects the rights of parents. And if children say, 'I need you to support me and not share this information until I understand how,' then that is the way that I would support students."
As of last Thursday, the outlet reported that 98 people had signed the petition. Organizers say they've verified 70 of those signatories, with most being teachers working in the Regina and Saskatoon areas.
Presently, it is unclear what will happen should teachers not follow the law.
While critics of the Parents' Bill of Rights point to polling suggesting Canadians are divided on the issue, Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill asserted the "poll was funded by a group of Eastern lawyers that’s currently suing us in court and I would say that some of the questions in that poll just is not reflective of what this policy is and is trying to do."
Data gathered by one of Canada's leading polling firms, Leger, appears to back up Cockrill's claim, as The Globe and Mail reported:
Leger found that 63 per cent of respondents expressed support for a school having to inform a child’s parents if they wish to be referred to by a different pronoun or gender. Only 22 per cent said that should not be required.
The issue of parental rights regarding gender ideology in the classroom has been growing in Canada. Prior to Saskatchewan's move to introduce the parental rights bill, New Brunswick became the first province to tackle the issue.
The approach is also popular in Alberta, with the governing United Conservatives approving of a similar policy approach at the party's recent annual general meeting. Ontario's government, meanwhile, has said it believes "parents have a right to know" about students' gender transitions but has not introduced any legislation to mandate this view.