Holt ‘concerned and infuriated’ by Policy 713 review

The leader of New Brunswick’s Liberal Party is growing “concerned and infuriated” by the review of an education policy that ensures protections for 2SLGBTQIA+ students in the classroom.

Policy 713 has been under review since late April after the Government of New Brunswick received multiple complaints about the policy from individuals and groups across the province.

Related: Province faces backlash over sexual orientation, gender identity policy review

Established in 2020, the policy sets minimum requirements for making schools safe and inclusive for 2SLGBTQIA+ students. The policy states that all students can access washrooms that align with their gender identity.

There’s also a provision that allows students under 16 to change their preferred first name and pronoun without any communication with parents.

Premier Blaine Higgs and Education Minister Bill Hogan have faced intense backlash from many New Brunswickers because of the review.

Related: Group demands N.B. halt gender identity policy review

Susan Holt, the leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party, issued a statement Friday, saying she is growing “increasingly concerned and infuriated” by “ignorant, uninformed and disrespectful comments” made by the premier and Hogan.

“They have admitted to not understanding what they are talking about,” said Holt in the statement.

“This review should never have happened; the policy needs to be upheld and strengthened.”

Holt’s statement comes after a CBC article published this week, which saw a high school student say a consultation meeting with Hogan to discuss Policy 713 left him feeling “unheard and disrespected.”

Logan Martin, a Grade 11 student at Saint John High School, told CBC News that the meeting “was like talking to a wall at times,” claiming Hogan “argued” with him and kept using the term “lifestyle” when speaking about gay and trans students.

“I expected him to sit there and listen to, you know, the experiences we went through and our statistics,” Martin told the CBC. “I didn’t expect him to interrupt and yell over top of me. He was just very rude.”

Related: We never considered removing Policy 713: Higgs

Higgs said last week his government never considered removing the policy, adding that protecting human rights is “non-negotiable” for his government.

“Policy 713 will stay, and if anything, it will be strengthened because it will have better support from parents, who will have greater clarity around sections that are vague and causing confusion,” he said last week.

Holt said she and her party return to the legislature on Tuesday to demand an apology for Hogan’s “argumentative, defensive and harmful behaviour with the students he is supposed to be serving.”

“All New Brunswickers deserve to feel safe being who [they] are, especially our kids,” she said.

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