Saskatchewan rises up as Scott Moe and co. attack transgender children

What Just Happened? | Stephen Whitworth

Hark! It’s a special “Rally For Our Rights” edition of What Just Happened, focusing on the October 10 protest at the Legislative Assembly.

Recap: after “suffering” an August 10 byelection seat win that wasn’t up to its usual standard of rural dominance, Saskatchewan’s provincial government announced a policy seemingly intended to woo straying social conservative voters back.

The Saskatchewan Party won the August Lumsden-Morse byelection handily with 2,696 votes (53.4%) against the second-place Saskatchewan United Party (1,145 votes, 22.7%) and third-place NDP (1,110, 22%). The SUP votes, however, came at the expense of the conservative Sask. Party government.

Saskatchewan United is a far-right, anti-mask, anti-vaccine mob of conspiracy-kool-aid-drinking dunderheads who fought the Lumsden bye-election by attacking sex education in schools and calling for “parental rights”, by which they mean parent vetoes over any curriculum a particular parent might not like — teaching science, evolution, the geological age of the earth, fact-based sex education, whatever.

Unfortunately, enough Lumsden-Morse voters (1,145) fell for SUP’s toxic, American-style malarkey to get the Sask. Party’s attention.

Which led to the government’s announcement of a dishonest and slimy policy to attract socially conservative voters: henceforth, Saskatchewan students under the age of 16 would need parental consent to be called by a different name or pronoun than the one their parents use.

It almost sounds reasonable. It is not.

First, It’s extremely uncommon for students under 16 to ask their teachers to use a name for them that’s not the one stitched to their gym bag. It’s so uncommon one must ask why even bother having such a policy? (A: politics!)

Second, if a child wants to be referred to by different names and pronouns than are used at home, it’s because coming out to your parents as trans is a high-risk move. Even kids with loving, supportive families come out to friends and schoolmates (and teachers) before they come out to their own folks. Children in hyper-conservative religious families, on the other hand, are MUCH more likely to be terrified of coming out, since hyper-conservative religious parents are often EXTREMELY homophobic, and the child, not being stupid, will worry their parents will kick them out. Spoiler alert: this is a real thing that happens to a ton of 2SLGBTQ people.

Thirdly, The policy has been criticized by educators, the LGBTQ communities and its allies and was even SLAMMED by the government’s own advocate for children.

The Scott Moe government’s policy is clearly bad. It also, however, probably violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, the policy was suspended by a judge on Monday, September 28.

At which point Scott Moe announced his Saskatchewan Party government would invoke the Constitution’s Notwithstanding Clause to block Charter protections, calling the Legislature back early to ram-through legislation… probably followed by an early election call so Moe and Co. can win one last government before Saskatchewan wakes up to the fact it’s governed by malicious, self-serving creeps.

This is a huge story. A story of national interest. International, in fact. It’s not every day some backwards Canadian province makes itself a global embarrassment by bragging it will block LGBTQ kids’ Charter rights.

Which brings us back to today’s rally at the legislature.

The hundreds (maybe a thousand?) of people who turned up at the Legislature demanded the government abandon its plans to suspend the Charter. They called out Scott Moe for putting trans kids at risk. They did this despite being blocked from the front of the Ledge by fences erected by an arrogant government that thinks it’s above criticism, and despite an alarming police presence that seemed to many more concerned with keeping politicians safe from accountability than any freedom of speech.[1]

These protestors are the people good people stand with.

Hopefully the Scott Moe government will abandon its child-harming plan to suspend trans kids’ rights. In the likely event they do not, civil Saskatchewan better get ready to fight the government’s homophobic and misguided supporters for the soul of this province. ■

1. The What Just Happened Desk does recognize LGBTQ supporters have been targeted by armed terrorists so a strong police presence is not inherently a terrible idea. But cops might want to put more effort into showing good people that they’re on their side. It’s honestly not clear right now.