Homophobic and transphobic bigots are coming out of the woodwork in full force, and I am so dang frustrated. They're emboldened by various policies, politicians, increased misinformed rhetoric, etc. and it's getting harder to not scream at people. So, hello keyboard, my old friend. I'm grateful to have this outlet instead of getting myself arrested.
I live in New Brunswick, Canada, which has become infamous for a recent questionable review of Policy 713; our Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. I won't explain the policy here, or get into what caused the review, or the changes made to it. If you live in NB, you are probably aware. If not, this CBC article is a decent summary but there are plenty more if you want to research further.
TL;DR: Expand for my own very short summary of events in NB leading to this point
The very, very short summary is that our provincial government chose to quietly place the policy under review. This timing happened right before a Pride in Education training event that had previously approved funding, but with the applicable policy in review status, funding was no longer approved (though costs already incurred at this point and covered out of pocket). PIE sharing that news is the only way that the public learned of the review occurring. The provincial Child & Youth Advocated inquired about the review and completed their report, including the three (3) phobic emails that the government provided as reasons for review. The sections we were told that were under review changed over time, but ultimately ended with the ones pertaining to self-identification for children under 16 who could not get parental consent for preferred name/pronoun usage, washroom access, and transgendered children playing sports. Throughout the process, the Premier and Minister of Education have had different stories evolving over time about what was being reviewed, why it happened, who was being consulted, etc. which has resulted in some public upset on all sides of the volatile issue. The one thing that has remained consistent is that they have both demonstrated a significant lack of respect and understanding towards 2SLGBTQIA+, particularly transgendered children, citing the rights of the parent above all else. The big "hot button" topic is self-identification of transgendered or non-binary children under 16 who, for whatever reason, do not have their parental consent to informally go by their preferred name or pronoun.
While this current issue is very specific to New Brunswick, in another sense it isn't specific at all. Two minutes on any social media platform shows me that Pride month and LGBTQ+ support is a contentious topic across all of North America. All I really want to see are funny memes and pictures of your dogs but instead I'm seeing toddlers being encouraged to stomp on Pride flags, a trans kid being told to kill themselves, and a member of Parliament getting a black eye for marching with LGBTQ+. That's just in Canada; people in USA are still attacking Target over brightly coloured merchandise that isn't even Pride related, but, just because, RAINBOWS.
The hate is growing. No, wait, I'm going to back up and correct myself - I do not think that it's "growing". It's the same amount, maybe even less, but now it's almost okay? People are feeling bold. Righteous, even. Maybe it's anonymous social media handles, maybe it's far-right political leaders, maybe it's a lot of things, but they are definitely feeling safer about blatantly flaunting it and spewing made up stuff to try and justify themselves as good people "for the kids".
I am an unapologetic supporter of equal rights. That includes 2SLGBTGQIA+. It also includes children. It includes parents too, but rights of the parent to be told things by a third party do not trump the basic chartered human rights of the child to not be discriminated against based on their gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, etc. But I digress. Turns out that support in this area gets you all kinds of fun comments, messages, etc.
I am only including comments and my input pertaining to the rights and laws for New Brunswick and Canadian LGBTQ+ children. This entire post is a direct result of my frustration with New Brunswick's handling of Policy 713 and the public response to that. None of us have time for me to get into any additional issues; this is enough. If you want to fight me about drag queen story time or sneakily disguised conversion camps, I'm game, but not today.
Here is a sampling of the things actually being said on social media about this. These are the folks who are "protecting the children". If you have found yourself saying, agreeing with, or supporting any of these...well....sorry to break it to you, but you might be a bigot.
"Teachers shouldn't be encouraging kids to keep develop secret identities from their parents." Teachers already have too much going on, and too many dumbass parents yelling at them for something or other. No teacher is encouraging any student to "become" transgendered, or non-binary, or whatever other new identity you're worried about, nor are they encouraging secrets in any capacity. They may, however, have been entrusted with an awareness of your child's self-identity at school in a social setting outside of your home. If you were not informed of that by the school that means that the child did not give their consent for them to contact you (at least true in NB per Policy 713 as it was from 2020 until now). That was your child's choice, not their teacher. Don't be mad at the teacher for keeping a secret, be grateful that your child has a teacher who has earned their trust and given their support. And maybe think about how you can make that safe space at home, too.
"So you support the mutilation of children?" Hello, you poor misinformed victim of phobic hysteria rhetoric. Here in Canada, we do not "mutilate children". I assume this is referring to gender affirming surgeries, which you have to be the age of majority to receive. Even minor cosmetic surgeries (such as breast reductions for trans boys) can't be done on children under 16. So please just stop buying into this one.
"Trans kids don't exist." I don't even know what to say to that one other than "I guess redheads can't either" because the scientific statistical likelihood of either is about the same. I get that you may not like them, or even understand them, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Sorry, chromosomes gonna chromosome, we don't get a say in that. And I get that it can be nearly impossible to really "believe" something you don't relate to. I can't possibly understand what it's like to be a trans kid. But here's the thing, I don't have to. I just need to want them to feel okay, and safe, no matter who they are that I can't relate to, like any human being.
"So you also think that a five year old is intelligent enough to switch genders and take puberty blockers while not fully understanding the consequences of their decision until years later? We should just allow kids to do whatever?" This is the most recent one that got me exasperated enough for this entire blog. Similar to the "mutilation" comment, this just does not happen. Puberty blockers are not being given to 5 year old children. I mean, maybe there is an exceptional circumstance somewhere in Canada that I'm not familiar with, but from my basic research they are not prescribed until closer to the onset of puberty (so, 10-11ish), and require a thorough psychological evaluation first. Psychological evaluations for children do not just happen without a parent knowing, since...you know...they'd have to request it. So this argument in regards to letting kids "do whatever" without parental consent is just ridiculous and fanning the fames of stupid. (Also worth noting that puberty blockers can be stopped and puberty just resumes where it left off. Actual hormone therapy treatments aren't prescribed until age 14 at a minimum. It used to be 16 but I believe it changed a few years ago after more research had been completed. In any case, certainly not on "5 year olds".)
"How can you support pedos and groomers." I don't even acknowledge these ones. I have to assume it's just a byproduct of all of the hateful false rhetoric. Just....wha? I am aware that there has been a disturbing amount of news reports lately about child sex offenders being found. I am also aware that literally 100% of them were cis-gendered adult men and have nothing to do with trans or non binary kids. Don't be gross.
"Those kids need mental help." Yes, they likely do! But if you're saying that because you think they have a mental illness, well, there's your bigot sign. Dealing with a sexual orientation or gender identity that is "different" is hard. For some, it's impossible and results in suicide. Coming to terms with yourself as a non-normative individual in this culture takes a lot of self awareness and coping, therapy, support, etc. So yes...they probably need help. So be helpful. Be supportive, and kind. Be a safe space. Don't tell them they're mentally ill, and then wonder why your kids don't feel comfortable talking to you about it.
"Pushing an agenda....something something indoctrination...." I don't know what big nefarious rainbow laden glittered mafia you think you're talking to. Cults are very real (holy shit, have you watched Shiny Happy People yet??) but the LGBTQ+ and Allies are not the IBLP. Nobody is pushing anything here. Policy does not equal education or content. Nobody is suggesting anyone be anything. But humans are often scared of what they don't know, or what is unfamiliar to them. Awareness and age appropriate education is critical. It's especially critical for kids with parents who talk about the big gay agenda. In any case, normalizing this and defining a safe space for queer kids is crucial. Here's an example of why.
"So you must be gay, or trans?" This one was sent right to me because apparently straight cis-gendered people can't advocate for others.
"You're not a parent, you don't get it." There is so much that could be said to this one. How about...you're not a trans kid, so maybe you don't get it, either. Okay snarkiness aside, there is no way I'm listening to anyone who thinks that any child doesn't need/deserve any supportive advocate they can get.
"Watch 'What Makes a Woman'." No. How about you go watch Shiny Happy People (available on Prime Video), especially since that sketchy What Makes a Woman thing was made by Matt Walsh, who supports Josh Duggar, who was sentenced just last freaking year for molesting 5 different children including 4 of his own sisters. But sure, I'm the pedophile for supporting Policy 713. Also....if one more man tries to mansplain "real women" to me one more time I swear I'm gonna need to buy stock in wine boxes because JFC, no.
"Stop sexualizing kids." Excuse me, sir, but what exactly is it about wanting a gay kid to feel safe at school or wanting a trans kid to know where they can pee that is sexualizing them, please? How does calling a non binary kid by their preferred first name "sexualizing" them? I think this is the one that I've heard/seen most frequently including from my own contacts (will be cleaning some friends lists up real soon) and it just makes it so bloody obvious that they've bought in to a transphobic narrative. Listen, even if you mean well and are truly concerned "for the kids"....that's great, but, this particular line is not where your concern should be. I promise you that literally nothing about Policy 713, or any Department of Education policy, or any policy pertaining to children, "sexualizes" them in any capacity. I will tell you though that I've seen a gross amount of sexualizing young girls coming from that same "stop sexualizing kids" sector though. Be careful, getting caught in the wise old words of "He who smelt it, dealt it" would be a big kick in the arse, eh?
"Parents need to know / Children under 16 don't have rights" This one is tricky because I do agree that good, supportive parents should know if their child is transgendered, to best support them at home. But here's the thing; there are some shitty parents. Just sad facts that we need to be aware of. The good, supportive parents probably already have a pretty good idea what's going on. Here's a real fun and heart warming example of that. You've either created a safe enough space that your kid feels comfortable talking to you, or you have a good enough read on your kid to know what's up, probably long before they do themselves. If not - if this news is something that would completely blindside you - before you get mad at your child or their school, take a moment and reflect on your parent/child relationship. I know truth really sucks sometimes, but, if your kid has decided that they don't feel safe coming out to you, there is a reason and it's not on anyone else, sorry to break it to you. Something at some point has indicated to your child that you might not be okay with this/them. So, if you are indeed one of the good ones, make sure you've created that safe space. Or at least be grateful that they have one somewhere. In any case, your child does indeed have rights of their own. I don't care how young they are, they are still entitled to an existence free from discrimination over their gender, identity, orientation, age, etc.
"Kids are too young to know what they're doing." This is a heavy one, because I can see that side to a lot of scenarios. At the end of the day, though....are they, really? Kids have a lot on them. Truly, I don't think I could handle being a kid these days with standard pressures, new technology, social media, etc. It's a lot. But while we didn't grow up with all of that, they are. We have a Canadian 12 year old about to graduate university! Don't underestimate kids, they know a lot that we don't give them credit for. And truly misgendered children know, at an early age, that something ain't matching up. Don't discount them just because they can't drive or vote yet. And really.....so what if they do get it wrong? Really though, so what? So they spend some time wondering if they are gay, trans, non-binary, etc. maybe even go by a different name and pronoun but decide down the road they aren't. Okay, great. No surgery was done, no medical impacts. The worst case scenario here is that they were given the freedom to explore that possibility and come to their own decision without judgement. That type of supportive environment translates to so many aspects of their lives and development; what a fantastic way to thrive!
"Protect the real girls in their bathrooms." This is not up for debate. No one is trying to make anyone feel unsafe in their gendered bathroom at school. No one is taking away a girl's right to privacy. Part of Policy 713 is ensuring that doesn't happen (for any student). The fact remains that trans kids need to pee, too. The policy itself requires a gender neutral safe option available. But while we're on the topic, please find me one credible instance where an actual trans kid did any harm to a girl in a public bathroom. I'll wait. Grown pedophiles and sex offenders dressing as trans don't count as an example; they would do anything to get in anywhere and kind of prove my point on required safe spaces for everyone.
"We can't have Christmas trees up in school anymore but we can teach 2nd graders how to use a vibrator to be 'inclusive'." Please cite your source for this truth bomb, sir. This was literally a Twitter comment, though I did take the liberty to correct spelling and grammar.
These are the people who say that they are protecting children.
These are the people who feel safe enough to show themselves, while the rest of us are trying to make LGBTQ+ kids feel safe and seen as themselves.
These are the folks who disagree with Policy 713 the way that it was, since 2020 after almost 10 years of research and consultation with experts, until someone sent an email urging to "Make New Brunswick Great Again".
This is your supportive base, Premier.
You might be a bigot.