Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he plans to introduce legislation this fall aimed at protecting parents’ rights.
Moe made the comments at the premier’s dinner in Regina on Thursday night and again on social media on Friday.
“We are not going to back down,” said the prime minister. His office said in an email to CBC that more details about the legislation, which is currently being developed for introduction in the assembly this fall, will be announced “in due course.”
In light of some criticism and court challenges funded by out-of-province interest groups, our government has been asked if we are serious about protecting parental rights in education or if we plan to back down.
Last night, he answered that question.
We are not going to turn back… pic.twitter.com/j5ZBfJ7GCz
In late August, former Education Minister Dustin Duncan banned third-party organizations from teaching sex education courses and said parents could prevent children from participating. He also mandated that children under 16 require parental consent if they want to use different names or pronouns at school.
The Morning Edition – Sask17:02Sask. The Education Minister talks about a new policy that requires schools to get parents’ permission to change pronouns.
Christian group says it influenced the government
The founder of a group described as a national Christian organization said he had managed to influence the Saskatchewan Party government to adopt sex education and pronoun policies affecting children in school.
Tanya Gaw, founder of Action4Canada, said her group urged the Saskatchewan government to ban Planned Parenthood and SOGI 123, a sexual health resource, in schools months before the province did so.
Gaw said Action4Canada received more than 10,000 emails, on behalf of the petitioners, sent to former Education Minister Dustin Duncan and Premier Scott Moe. He said one of his members also had a face-to-face conversation with Duncan staff in April, delivering what the group calls a “liability notice” for “causing harm” to children by exposing them to “sexually explicit” resources.
Gaw did not say how many of those emails came from Saskatchewan residents or parents with young children.
“The prime minister and others also met and greeted in a park, which was a good opportunity to get some information in their hands,” Gaw said in a recent interview.
“It was just constant monitoring of his office, providing information in the files we had.”
UR Pride, a community organization representing LGBTQ people in Regina, has filed legal action against the government over the pronoun policy.
He said the policy violates Charter rights because it could expose children to their parents or cause teachers to misgender them at school. A judge is expected to hear the case on September 19.
SEE | Former teacher talks about Sask. The government’s new educational policy:
Gaw called the changes a “partial victory” because the group also wanted the flags of “special interest groups” and non-governmental groups, including Pride flags, to be banned from schools.
“None of this should happen in schools,” he said.
A government spokesperson said in an email earlier this week that there was no influence from Action4Canada and that “the policy was influenced by parents from across Saskatchewan.”
The province has said schools will provide support to children who will not be accepted home because of their gender identity, although it has not detailed how that would work.
On its website, Action4Canada says schools are “indoctrinating” children about LGBTQ issues. He also believes in “climate fraud” and has spoken out against COVID-19 mandates.
Gaw organized a similar campaign in support of New Brunswick’s pronoun policy, inundating elected officials with emails. New Brunswick requires parental consent when children under 16 want to use different names or pronouns, although psychologists and social workers can continue to use names chosen by children.
Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, a national LGBTQ organization, said claims of indoctrination ignore facts and data.
“Schools that have inclusive policies around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion have much healthier graduates,” Kennedy said.
Egale, who is assisting UR Pride in its legal challenge, completed a report in 2021 that said “conservative political and religious groups” are manipulating gender issues to incite violence and discrimination against LBGTQ people.
“I think they’re having a tremendous influence,” Kennedy said.
Members of groups like Action4Canada have attended school board meetings in Saskatchewan over the past year to protest sex education and gender issues. Some have been disturbing.
On June 20, a group attended a Saskatoon Public Schools board meeting to voice their concerns about sexual health education resources.
“Their attempts to disrupt the meeting continued and tensions escalated. At this point, the meeting was adjourned by motion of the board,” a Saskatoon Public Schools spokesperson said in a statement.
Members of the Regina Civic Awareness and Action Network have attended board meetings, raising concerns about “gender-affirming attention,” said Wayne Bernakevitch, one of the group’s founders.
“If some of them are a little off base (in disrupting meetings), it’s certainly not our fault,” he said.
Bernakevitch worked at a large law firm in Regina before retiring and founding the group.
It said its members have sent letters and emails to the government, outlining their concerns.
In July, a flyer circulated in some Regina neighborhoods, urging people to contact Duncan and the Regina Public Schools board president over pronouns.
The flyer contained several website links and asked people to email a group called Unified Grassroots, which has been raising similar concerns.
Nadine Ness, the group’s founder, said in a text message this week that the organization is not responsible for the flyer.
SEE | Hundreds demonstrate against new pronouns and names policy in Sask. schools:
In June, her group urged people to sign Action4Canada’s petition to ban Planned Parenthood, citing a case in which a staff member at the organization inadvertently brought inappropriate sexual material to a ninth-grade class in a town north of Regina.
Ness’ group also called for SOGI 123 to be banned, saying it brings “radical gender ideology into schools.”
The ARC Foundation, which developed SOGI 123, has said the resource is intended to make schools inclusive and safe.
Ness said parents have made their voices heard.
“In terms of influence, it would be impossible to deny having had some type of influence for the simple fact of having shed a lot of light on these issues that affect families.”