The province has announced that in the next few months, they will be implementing policies, that will among other things prohibit gender reassignment surgeries for minors 17 and under.
In a highly anticipated press conference on Thursday afternoon, Premier Smith said that the policies are meant to preserve the rights of kids to be able to make decisions as adults.
"We wanted to make sure that we struck the right balance so that kids are not making irreversible decisions, when they may not be mature enough to make those decisions. We want to make sure that those adult decisions are made as adults," she said.
Other prohibitive or restrictive policies announced, include the prohibition of puberty blockers and hormone therapies for the purpose of gender reassignment or affirmation for children aged 15 and under; with the exception for those who have already commenced treatment.
"Mature teens, aged 16 and 17, may only choose to commence puberty blockers and hormone therapies for gender reassignment and affirmation purposes with parental, physician and psychologist approval," the province stated in a release.
Other policies surrounding schools include the need for parents to consent for their child aged 15 and under to alter their name or pronouns used by school teachers, administration and other educational staff.
"Parents must be notified for their child aged 16 or 17 to alter their name or pronouns used by school teachers, administration and other educational staff."
Parents will also need to be notified and opt in to any instance when a teacher provides formal instruction on a subject matter involving gender identity, sexual orientation or human sexuality.
"All third-party resource materials or presentations related to gender identity, sexual orientation or human sexuality available in Alberta classrooms must be pre-approved by the Ministry of Education to ensure they are age-appropriate," the province added.
As part of the policies, Alberta’s government also said that it will be working with sporting organizations in the province to ensure, 'biologically born female athletes are able to compete in a biological female-only division without having to compete against transgender female athletes while also expanding co-ed or other gender-neutral divisions for athletic competitions to ensure that transgender athletes are able to meaningfully participate in the sport of their choice.'
However, the Premier's announcement was met with fierce criticism from the NDP. Rachel Notley, said that the decisions are representative of government interference in what she said should be a collaborative and private decision between parents, their child, and their doctor.
“The decisions being made by Danielle Smith and her government are designed to further divide those who have been subjected to misinformation and conspiracy theories generated by a wing of the UCP.”
The Alberta Teacher's Association's Present, Jason Schilling, also released a statement in response to the new policies.
"Our primary concern is the safety and wellness of all students. I am worried about how today’s announcement will impact the safety of some of our most vulnerable students," the statement read in part.
Schilling added that the policy direction intended by the government is broad-reaching and that there are pieces of the policies announced that have the potential to impact the culture and operation of schools.
"We are concerned about the chilling effect placed on classrooms and schools, impacting our ability to provide safe, caring and inclusive spaces for all students. Transgender youth are 5 times more likely to think about suicide and nearly 8 times more likely to attempt it than other children. We must be mindful of the vulnerability of these students and their need for safety, security and support."
Locally, the Airdrie Pride Society also released a statement on social media on Thursday, hours before the Premier's press conference. While the society did not make a direct mention of the policy announcements, they did say that they, 'will continue to provide support, as well as amplify, and empower trans and queer voices and experiences.'
While Thursday's announcement was centred around prohibitive policies around minors, the government also added that as per the transgender support for adult Albertans, the province is working to bring medical professionals who specialize in pre-and post-operative transgender care for adults to Alberta.
When asked if there would be penalties for disobeying the policies, Smith did not give a clear answer, stating that the government would be seeking consultation on how to implement the policies.
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