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SHRC releases statement on Bill 137

October 19, 2023

It is disappointing that the Government of Saskatchewan has tabled legislation – Bill 137, the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” – that invokes Section 52 of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018. The bill mandates teachers to notify parents in cases where students request a change in the use of personal pronouns or names in the classroom. This proposed legislation has polarized parents throughout the province and has led to the resignation of one of our valued Commissioners, Heather Kuttai.

People on both sides of the debate look to protect children. The disagreement lies in how best to do that.

Rather than proceeding with the proposed legislation, we encourage the Government to work with the Commission to find middle ground through consultation. Invoking the exception provision of the Code has significantly affected the rights of Saskatchewan minors. The Code protects the human rights of all Saskatchewan residents, not just those over the age of 18. It applies to all residents of Saskatchewan equally and does not single out the parent/child relationship.

The “pronoun” provisions presented to the Legislature infringe upon the rights of Saskatchewan students and the Commission urges the Saskatchewan Government to slow down and reconsider the legislation and the effect that it may have on vulnerable youth in our province. It is never too late for sober second thought.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission is willing and eager to consult with the Saskatchewan Government on this and any issue affecting the human rights of people in Saskatchewan.