Province faces backlash over sexual orientation, gender identity policy review

Provincial officials are facing intense backlash for its decision to review its policy on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

Green Party Leader David Coon issued a statement Tuesday, saying he was concerned that Education Minister Bill Hogan considered changing the policy.

“We are talking about some of the most vulnerable young people in our province,” said Coon.

“Their schools must continue to be safe and affirming spaces.”

Hogan said the government decided to review Policy 713, aimed at supporting students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, after concerns from a variety of groups, including teachers.

He told reporters Tuesday teachers felt unsure of how to teach and how to approach it correctly.

“What we really need to do is more in-service with our teachers so that they have a clear understanding of how the curriculum works and how the policy applies,” said Hogan.

It came days after protesters gathered outside of a professional learning conference for teachers in Fredericton, where one of the sessions was about Policy 713.

Connie Keating, president of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association, said protesters hurled hateful comments toward teachers and members of the LGBTQ community.

Hogan issued a statement Friday afternoon distancing the government from the Council Day sessions.

“These sessions are not organized by the provincial government and any questions regarding these sessions should be directed to the respective organizations,” said Hogan in the statement.

Liberal Leader Susan Holt accused the province of abandoning LGBTQ students and teachers, and putting them at risk.

“By initiating this review, the government has … left them wondering if they will have a safe place in our education system,” she said.

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