During a press conference Thursday, Premier Danielle Smith provided further details of the sweeping changes to gender and sexuality policies previously announced over social media, many of which are considered unprecedented in Canada.

Once implemented, the Government of Alberta policies would restrict or prohibit many aspects of gender-affirming care for trans youth. Top and bottom surgeries for youth 17 and under will be prohibited, as will the use of hormone therapy for those 15 and under. For minors aged 16 and 17, hormone therapy will require the parent and physician approval.

For children 15 and under, parental consent will be required to change their preferred name or pronouns in school, and parents will be notified if youth aged 16 or 17 change their preferred name or pronouns.

Transgender youth will also be barred from competing in women and girls sports, which Smith said is meant to ensure “fairness and safety.”

“We will work with sporting organizations to ensure that women and girls have a choice to participate in competitive sport without having to compete against biologically stronger transgender women athletes,” Smith said.

All sex education in Alberta schools will also be subject to changes. Parents will be required to opt-in their child when teachers plan to discuss subject matter related to gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexuality for K–12 students. Currently, parents are able to opt out of these lessons if desired.

Resources related to these subjects provided by third-party organizations would also be subject to approval by the education ministry.

When asked whether there would be penalties for teachers or doctors who didn’t comply with the new rules, Smith said she hopes that they would follow what is being laid out in the policies, but that aspects would be clarified as the policies are prepared for implementation.

“We have just put out the high level policy at the moment. We’ll be talking about implementation as we go forward in the coming months. We’re looking at having those things that need to be legislated, or put into regulation or policy, having that package ready for the fall. So we’ll be seeking consultation on the implementation of it,” she said.

Smith said she hopes Albertans can “depoliticize the issue as much as possible and focus on the well-being of the children involved.”

In a separate press conference Thursday, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said Smith’s claim she didn’t want to politicize the issue was “a cynical, and deeply dishonest statement.”

“I believe we all want our kids to be cared for and safe. But weaponizing their individual experience is absolutely not the way to do that. That’s politics,” Notley said.

Notley said the proposed policies go well beyond similar legislation introduced in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick last year, and affect the entire LGBTQ+ community and anyone who benefits from sex education.

“When it comes to gender-affirming health care, Smith’s new policy represents government interference in what should be a collaborative and private decision between parents, their child and their doctor,” she said. 

Current practices for gender-affirming care follow Canadian Medical Association guidelines, which necessarily include parents, and by making these policy changes, “Daniel Smith is playing dangerous politics with the lives of young people,” Notley said.

Making Alberta the only province where parents have to opt-in for sexual health education would not only be a bureaucratic hassle requiring thousands of consent forms, Notley said it is her belief that the “plan to get into the process of reviewing materials related to sexual health is the first step towards bringing pro-life education into our schools.”

By Brett McKay, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 02, 2024 at 14:59

This item reprinted with permission from   St. Albert Gazette   St. Albert, Alberta
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