Alberta Premier Danielle Smith Photo from Wikipedia

Parental rights win with new Alberta policy

  • February 6, 2024

Alberta’s proposed parental rights policy is another step in parents regaining control of their children’s education —  in particular concerning a perceived overreach with gender ideology — from school bureaucrats, say its supporters.

The new policy, introduced by Premier Danielle Smith in a video posted to X on Jan. 31, will forbid gender reassignment surgery for minors under 18 years old and prohibit puberty blockers and hormone therapies for youth aged 15 and younger. Following the same path as neighbouring Saskatchewan, the new rules also make parental notification and consent compulsory from a school seeking to comply with requests by a child under 16 to change his or her name or pronoun; schools will have to notify parents of 16- and 17-year-olds seeking to make such change. 

Elementary and secondary schools will also be mandated to provide notification and an opt-in requirement for each occasion a teacher plans on instructing about gender identity, sexual orientation or human sexuality in the classroom. 

Jeff Gunnarson, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, called Smith’s announcement “ground-breaking.”

“A political miracle has just happened,” said Gunnarson. “With these new policies, a Canadian premier has essentially told the seemingly unstoppable transgender movement to stop in its tracks and leave Alberta kids alone. I commend Premier Smith for her proposed policies that will go a long way in protecting children and safeguarding the unreplaceable parent-child relationship.”

Teresa Pierre, executive director of Parents as First Educators (P.A.F.E.), said the Alberta policy is a sign of growing momentum in parents taking back their rights against bureaucrats pushing radical gender agendas.

“It started with (New Brunswick Premier) Blaine Higgs followed by Saskatchewan with the notwithstanding clause,” said Pierre. “Every time something new happens there is something building and getting stronger.” 

(Last June, Higgs’ government introduced similar legislation that aimed to give more parental control in the education system back to parents, particularly surrounding gender issues. Saskatchewan followed, as did a number of other provinces.)

Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada, a lobbying organization that aims to equip and encourage Christians to political action, also applauded Smith’s policy announcement. 

“Alberta is right to restrict these surgeries as well as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors, all of which have severe long-term health risks," said John Sikkema, ARPA’s director of law and policy. He urged Smith “to follow through with implementing these policy changes, despite the predictable backlash by activist groups and media.”

Smith, in her video, touched upon how teenaged years are “a very complicated time” of constant change, development and new thoughts and feelings. She spoke about the responsibility shared by parents, teachers and community leaders “to preserve for our children the right to grow and develop into mature adults so that they are better prepared to make the most impactful decisions affecting their lives.” Deciding whether or not to alter one’s biological sex is a serious decision that should be made in adulthood, she said.  

“Making permanent and irreversible decisions regarding one’s biological sex while still a youth can severely limit that child’s choices in the future,” said Smith. “Prematurely encouraging or enabling children to alter their very biology or natural growth, no matter how well-intentioned and sincere, poses a risk to that child’s future that I, as premier, am not comfortable with permitting in our province.”

The Catholic Register reached out for comment to both the Calgary Catholic School District and the Edmonton Catholic School Division. Both boards replied that more time is required to thoroughly review the new policies. 

The blowback against the new policy began even before it was made public. The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) criticized the provincial government for not seeking its input when shaping the new guidelines. Jason Schilling, ATA president, warned that “pieces of the policies announced are concerning.”

“We are concerned about the chilling effect placed on classrooms and schools, impacting our ability to provide safe, caring and inclusive spaces for all students,” wrote Schilling. “We are concerned about how students may feel forced to suppress their identities and to be afraid of reaching out to teachers as an avenue of support.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decried Smith for unveiling “the most anti-LGBT policies of anywhere in the country.” He called on the Alberta premier to “fight with us to defend the rights of vulnerable Canadians, don't fight against vulnerable LGBT youth.” The Prime Minister’s comment echoed his statement against New Brunswick in June when he categorized Higgs’ government as “far-right political actors” who were exposing vulnerable children to “cruelty and isolation.”

The new policy will also bring changes to provincial sports. A women’s only division will be created to ensure women and girls have the option of not competing against a biological male who now identifies as a female. The government will also collaborate with sporting organizations by expanding co-ed divisions and forming gender neutral categories for athletic competitions.

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