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Sep 05, 2023
On-reserve schools not subject to provincial policies, but many First Nations students study off-reserve
As students across New Brunswick return to classrooms this week, advocates worry about how the Department of Education’s new gender-identity policy will impact First Nations students.
Earlier this summer, N.B. Education Minister Bill Hogan made it mandatory for schools to get parental consent before verbally using the chosen names and pronouns of students under the age of 16.
That was a change to a policy introduced in 2020 to guarantee minimum support for 2SLGBTQ students, including ensuring that teachers use students’ preferred pronouns and that gender-neutral washrooms are available.
John Sylliboy, executive director of the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance, described removing protections for two-spirit and LGBTQ children in classrooms as “a form of violence.”
“From a Wabanaki or Mi’kmaw perspective, if we interrupt the proper development — culturally, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically — of a child then they are going to be unbalanced and that will cause long-term impacts on their health,” said Sylliboy.