In a display of solidarity, Canadians have taken to the streets in Saskatchewan cities, including Saskatoon, Regina, and Lloydminster, to rally behind transgender youth and voice their opposition to Bill 137, also known as the Parent’s Bill of Rights. The legislation, recently enacted into law, introduces a set of parental rights concerning their children’s education, including access to school records and the ability to oversee sexual health education content. Notably, the bill also mandates parental consent for transgender pupils to use their preferred name, gender identity, and/or gender expression at school.
Concerns for Transgender Youth’s Safety and Well-being
Rally co-organizer Blake Tait emphasized the importance of providing a safe and affirming space for children, stating, “Children deserve a space where they feel safe, included and affirmed.” Tait, who began his social transition at the age of 14, expressed concerns that the new legislation would leave more students without a choice and force them into a difficult situation. “No opportunity to go at their own pace […] Youth are going back into the closet, and youth are terrified for the lives of their friends,” he explained.
Roberta Cain, a parent of a transgender child, shared the distressing impact of forced outings, describing the situation as “really awful and scary.” Her son, Silas, stressed the importance of having a safe place for experimentation and expressed the challenges he faced for simply being himself. Silas said, “I am so hated for just existing and being who I am. So many younger kids who are finding out who they are and want to have a safe space are at such a risk because some people just don’t like us.”
Human Rights Commissioner Resigns in Protest
The controversial bill, which passed with the use of section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has drawn sharp criticism. Human rights commissioner Heather Kuttai, who has a trans son, tendered her immediate resignation in response to the bill’s passing. Kuttai emphasized that a child’s rights must always take precedence over a parent’s obligations and responsibilities, expressing her concern that the policy would harm vulnerable children. She stated firmly, “I cannot be a part of a provincial government that takes away the rights of children, especially vulnerable children.”
As protests continue and tensions rise, the Parent’s Bill of Rights remains a contentious issue, highlighting the importance of protecting the rights and well-being of transgender youth across Canada.