Policy 713 was implemented by the New Brunswick government in August of 2020. The policy, according to its purpose, sought to “create a safe, welcoming, inclusive, and affirming school environment for all students, families, and allies who identify or are perceived as LGBTQI2S+.” However, it was revised this past August due to varying opinions on the rights of students, and their guardians. The policy now states that “formal use of preferred first name for transgender or non-binary students under the age of 16 will require parental consent.”
Although Policy 713 aims to create an inclusive atmosphere within the New Brunswick public school system, there has been a loud wave of backlash. The government of New Brunswick put out a statement from the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Bill Hogan, stating: “We fundamentally believe that it is wrong to hide information from parents.” Hogan followed up on this statement by expressing that the government “ respects parents, and recognizes the critical role they play in their child’s life and education.” Continuing he said, “the government is, and always has been, dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming environment where all children are free to be themselves.” Yet, within the public, the policy has faced immense backlash, especially from queer groups. This includes the New Brunswick Medical Society, which released a statement condemning some aspects of the policy, “1. Regarding identity construction and normal development: a. The revised policy may be harmful for normal exploration, a necessary step in identity construction. b. It undermines the scientific principle that a child’s development depends on a variety of systems responsible for supporting and validating exploration.”
New Brunswick’s child and youth advocate, Kelly Lamrock, has called into question the legal legitimacy of the policy, arguing that it is a violation of personal autonomy to deny transgender or other LGBTQI2S+ students their preferred identity within the public sphere. Moreover, Policy 713 has sparked concern due to its likeness to other, similar bills or policies, that have been passed within the United States. In 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is currently tracking 501 anti-LGBTQI2S+ bills within the United States. There are also enacted laws, such as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida. As the school year in New Brunswick continues with the new amendments, how the policy is implemented and utilised within the public schooling system will continue to be examined.