Parental Rights at School
School boards may claim that gender fluidity is their policy, but end up teaching gender identity instead. The two concepts are related but have very different implications.
What are your parental rights?
Parental rights will vary from province to province in Canada.
In Ontario, schools need to provide notice of the human development and sexual health curriculum instruction and allow parents to exempt their children from meeting the curriculum expectations without penalty. Here’s what you need to know about the new opt-out provisions and how to assess whether they’re being applied:
Please note that some teachers may be providing instruction on sexual health or gender ideology outside of the core curriculum and use the Inclusive Education Strategy as justification for these “teaching moments”. If this is concerning to you, you can meet with the teacher and principal to ask open-ended questions and proceed to escalate your concerns. A list of questions you can ask can be found below.
Do you know how your child’s teacher will be approaching the topic of gender?
Consider these teaching examples:
|Teaching Example||What Kids Learn|
|The teacher shows children advertising that targets particular toys at a particular gender and engages the class in a discussion about the message they see and whether it’s good or bad.||Gender is fluid, I’m ok and you’re ok no matter what toys or games we like. Children of both sexes learn that it’s ok to enjoy playing with different types of toys; gender stereotypes can be hurtful and limiting. Children learn to think for themselves!|
|The teacher asks students to identify themselves to their peers by writing their names on a gender spectrum based on whether they “feel” like a girl or boy. Girl or boy on the teacher’s gender spectrum have no relationship to biological sex.||A child’s personal identity is being reprogrammed from biological reality to an unstable and always changing cultural notion of gender. Young children may come away thinking: I’m not sure who I really am; girls aren’t real; I can be a boy if I want!|
|The teacher instructs the class in the different pronouns the students can use to describe themselves based on how they “feel” (pronouns don’t have to match your biological reality)||The way I identify myself to others is entirely up to me and should reflect a group membership that I want to self-identify into. I get to have complete control over my pronouns and how others perceive me and refer to me.|
Download our FactSheet that explains the important difference between gender fluidity and gender identity. Use this as a tool to help you in your conversations with your teacher and principal, or bring it up for discussion at a parent committee meeting.
Gender Identity and Medical Gender Transition
Gender identity is important to understand because it’s the term the medical community uses to determine whether an individual, including pre-pubescent children, should medically transition with gender-affirming hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery. Medical transition is provided to people who experience a discord between their physical characteristics and their gender identity.
Questions you can raise to your school
There are 3 Levels of Inquiry:
- Questions you can ask your teacher about how they instruct the topic of gender
- Questions to ask a Principal or other school administrator (VP) at an Open House or 1:1 meeting
- Raising your concerns to a Superintendent. It’s important to use the official complaint process for your school board which requires them to document the response (you can use an incident you’ve observed or concerns you have about the answers to the questions you asked of the teacher or principal to inform this step) – template letter coming soon
Questions for a Parent/Teacher meeting
Tip: Use general and open-ended questions to inquire about the gender spectrum and gender identity.
To teacher: ‘What kind of lessons do you give to get across the concept of gender to the kids? Could you give me an example? Do you have kids use a gender spectrum? What do you teach children about the gender spectrum?
How do you differentiate between the concept of gender fluidity and the concept of gender identity? Have you ever received training on teaching children about alternative pronouns or ways that they might determine their gender identity?
What role do you believe you have as a teacher to help kids understand and label their own personal sense of gender?
How would you teach gender identity so that you’re not reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes or otherwise suggest that boys and girls have innate personality differences?
What measures do you take to ensure that any discussion of gender identity does not conflict with the rights of those with the protected characteristics of sex and sexual orientation?
Have you ever received training to ensure that the teaching of gender identity does not conflict with factual, scientific instruction of reproductive biology and anatomy?
Questions for your Principal or school administrator (VP)
To Principal or VP: Teacher (x) uses the gender spectrum and he/she/zi has children put their names on the spectrum. What happens if a child’s parents don’t believe (for religious or scientific reasons) that gender is a spectrum? Are they told about this lesson in advance?
What happens if a student suddenly starts identifying as the opposite gender (even if they’ve never before expressed any gender non-conforming traits). Are you obligated to make the parents aware that this has happened?
Are you aware that parents are reporting there’s a social contagion effect of identifying as transgender and have you been given any guidance on how to deal with this? For example, if you notice a group of friends that are suddenly identifying as “trans”, “non-binary” or the opposite sex and it seems a bit odd that a group of kids who know each other are all doing this together. Would you be able to notify parents that this is happening? What guidance have you been given on how to handle this kind of situation?
Are you planning to invite 3rd party groups into the school to conduct workshops on sexual diversity and gender identity or has this already happened in the last few years? Do you inform parents when 3rd party groups are invited into the school to present to students?
Template Letters and Guidance Documents
Raise your concerns about gender ideology to the school board based on the answers you received from the teacher and principal.
Raising concern and asking questions of your school board about 3rd party organizations who are invited in to deliver workshops that will cover topics of sexual health and gender identity. (Template letter coming soon)