Debate over pronouns pits parental rights against the rights of children, experts say


As provinces push forward policies about transgender and nonbinary children changing their names or pronouns in schools, much of the debate has focused on the idea of parental rights.
A constitutional law expert says it's important to understand the wider context behind these policies, as well as the rights that children have too.
Both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick are now requiring parental permission before students under 16 can change the names or pronouns they wish to be called in the classroom.
Kerri Froc, an associate law professor at the University of New Brunswick, says courts have recognized parents have a fundamental interest in being able to parent their children and make decisions for them.
But Froc says ``parental rights'' policies must be balanced with the best interests of the child, especially if policies are aimed at a specific group.
A landmark 2018 study found transgender youth who are able to use their preferred names and pronouns reported a 34 per cent drop in suicidal thoughts and a 65 per cent decrease in suicide attempts.
Advocates say policies like those in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick may put transgender and nonbinary students in difficult positions, especially if they don't feel safe revealing their gender identities at home.