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Open letter calls out potential education policy changes

Mervin Taylor-Morin, President of Muskoka Pride, has penned an open letter to Minister of Education Stephen Lecce warning about the dangers of changing Ontario’s education policy.

He says the organization is “certain” potential changes to Ontario’s education policy will have “a negative impact on the mental health of 2SLGBTQ+ youth.”  

“We must protect the rights of youth by preventing nonconsensual disclosure of their gender identity, even to their parents,” he writes. “Don’t lose sight of the possibility the home may not be a safe space for many 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Forcing them to come out could cause irreparable harm or lead to suicide.”  

Shawn Forth, Secretary for Muskoka Pride, says Lecce’s Aug. 28 comments that parents have to be fully involved if their child is using different pronouns at school was what inspired the organization to write him an open letter. “It felt like he was trying to walk a very tight line between what’s happening in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan and also recognizing the inclusion policies that are still the policies in Ontario,” says Forth.  

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He explains that earlier this year, both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick adopted new gender and pronoun policies that made it so parental consent is needed for students under the age of 16 to change their given names and/or pronouns at school. 

When contacted Monday by the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom a spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford’s office says the government is not planning any legislation that will force teachers to disclose information to parents. “The premier and minister have both been clear they believe parents must be involved and informed of what is happening in their children’s lives,” said Caitlin Clark. “There are well-established protocols to ensure the safety of children. We’re confident in the existing protocols and are not currently exploring any legislative changes. Parents love their kids. They want to be aware of what’s happening in their children’s lives in their schools, and we expect school boards to be transparent with parents and respect their right to know about life-changing decisions while always ensuring the safety of the child.”  

“Policies around education and the school environment should look to maintain a safe, inclusive, and affirming environment,” says Taylor-Morin. 

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