Parental rights champions in Prince Edward Island want to strip trans kids of their right to privacy

A petition and a resolution are circulating questioning the need for queer- and trans-affirming guidelines in schools

Parents opposed to trans rights in Prince Edward Island are pushing a petition to demand evidence for the province’s gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation guidelines. 

Currently, the province’s gender identity guidelines, introduced in December 2021, outline the way schools need to act to “address the needs of LGBTQQIA+ students and staff appropriately, respectfully and consistently across the province.” Best practices laid out include ensuring dress codes respect gender identity and expression, providing safe access to washrooms and reducing gender-specific language and gender-segregated activities. 

Section 5, on providing supports for students’ individual needs, notes that students may ask for specific “accommodations.” Accommodations are “meant to create equitable opportunities for students and must be flexible and unique to each student,” the guidelines read. Students can request these accommodations themselves without parental sign-off, based on Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which ensures every child’s right to privacy.

“In most cases, parents are aware of their child’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation, however, this measure is to respect the privacy of a student who may not be ready to disclose their identity at home or in their community,” the guidelines read. “Students are encouraged to discuss their sexual orientation and gender identity with their parents/guardians if/when they feel comfortable doing so.”

The petition being circulated claims “these Guidelines undermine the roles and responsibilities of parents, and disregard the requirement for parental consent,” and calls on the P.E.I. government to remove the guidelines entirely. 

Separately, an upcoming meeting agenda for Morell Consolidated School—a local school—notes that a resolution that will be brought up, asking for “scientific evidence justifying the need for implementing the Gender Diversity Guidelines,” and for the ability for parents to “decide whether or not their children will participate in this program.” CBC News was not able to confirm who was behind the resolution or the petition.

The guidelines in question, which apply to all grades and are not a specific program or curriculum, are ensuring that all students are treated with respect no matter their gender identity or sexuality. 

Lucky Fusca, executive director of the P.E.I. Transgender Network, told CBC News that the attacks on trans students are hurtful. 

“I’m feeling hurt, disappointed, a little bit confused as to what is being put forward,” they said. 

P.E.I.’s Public Schools Branch posted a statement to social media on Monday expressing support for the existing guidelines. 

“We are committed to creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students,” the statement reads. “While a parent is able to bring an agenda item or motion forward, this does not mean it is reflective of the entire school community or its staff and should not be assumed as such.”


Similar guidelines exist in most provinces across Canada. P.E.I.’s guidelines were developed by the provincial government with public input over the course of 2021. The full document includes several pages of references and additional resources, indicating the breadth of the evidence included in their creation.

Fusca said they hoped the discussion around the petition or resolution would provide the chance to address anti-LGBTQ2S+ hate directly.

“I’d like to maintain hope that this is really an opportunity for us to address the hate that is being organized and move forward—be it through education or other modalities to call people into a place of understanding and love,” they said.

“So, the call is to step up, and to call on our allies to be vocal about this, to call on government officials and bodies of influence to be vocal about this … saying, ‘You are not alone. And the majority does not feel this way.’”

Use of of “parental consent” as a way to diminish trans-affirming policies as less important than a parent’s right to be transphobic has picked up steam recently, following high-profile articles in the New York Times and National Post that questioned whether schools should be allowed to keep trans students’ social transitions confidential. 

In privileging a parent’s “right” to consent to what their child experiences at school, over a child’s right to privacy and personal autonomy, the line of thought says that children must be beholden to their parents’ desires at all times—even at school. School guidelines like P.E.I.’s exist to support queer and trans students because schools have a burden of care to the children attending them—not a burden of knowledge to their parents.

“While it’s easy to assume that parents always have their children’s best interests at heart, the reality is that queer and trans kids are still very frequently abused or even outright abandoned by homophobic and transphobic parents,” Xtra contributor Katelyn Burns wrote in January, explaining why the right to privacy is important for queer or trans students. “Outing a child will always carry a certain amount of risk that parents will not take the news well.” 

V.S. Wells

V. S. Wells is a British writer living in Vancouver, B.C., with bylines in Slate, VICE and Autostraddle. Please stop asking them about Brexit.

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