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Protect Trans students - the fight for policy 713 in New Brunswick

Rebecca Rogers

June 15, 2023
The Government of New Brunswick has made changes to policy 713, which protects sexual and gender nonconforming students in schools. Not surprisingly, the PC government took rights away from students. 
Under the original policy, which was brought in by the same government, students under 16 who were trans or non-binary could use their chosen name and Pronouns in the classroom without their parents knowledge. Although not on official documents. 
Policy 713 has been changed so now, if a student under 16 wants to use their chosen name and Pronouns they have to get their parents permission. This will force many trans and non-binary students to continue to be deadnamed and the wrong Pronouns to be used for them. This will cause many students to suffer from anxiety and depression, and will lead to more suicide attempts and unfortunately some successful attempts. 
Another change to policy 713 is that before students were able to play sports on the team that represented their gender identity, now they have to play on the team that represents their gender assigned at birth. Again a policy change that will affect a students mental health. 
On the issue of mental health, one of the things that the Minister of Education William Hogan said was the students that had concerns about how their parents would react could work out a plan with a guidance counsellor or a school psychologist. There are two problems with this. First, it is not the student, but the parent who has a problem. Second, there is currently an 84% vacancy rate for school psychologists in the English school system in New Brunswick. The situation is not much better in the francophone system. There is also a high vacancy rate for guidance counsellors. 
These policy changes have not been implemented, and actually, at the time of writing, haven’t been voted on yet. There has been a strong pushback against these changes. There have been walkouts in many schools involving hundreds of students. There was a demonstration at the legislature of around a thousand people. As well, there was a demonstration in Moncton of around 300 people, with strong union support. There is also a petitionopposing the changes which currently has over 16 thousand name on it. 
On a different note, eight PC MLA's have spoken out against these policy changes. If they stand their ground, and that is a big if, there is a chance that these changes will be defeated when they come up for a vote.
The Liberals say they are going to change the policy back to what it was. However, can we really trust the Liberals to change anything? The answer is of course no. We will get these changes reversed by fighting for them - through taking to the streets and not backing down. 
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