Teachers told by Ontario school board to keep children's gender identity secret from parents

The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), which teaches children as young as kindergarten that they get to choose whether they are girls or boys, also instructs teachers to willfully deceive parents by withholding information about a child’s self-declared gender identity and change of name and pronouns.

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), which teaches children as young as kindergarten that they get to choose whether they are girls or boys, also instructs teachers to willfully deceive parents by withholding information about a child’s self-declared gender identity and change of name and pronouns.

In guidelines for the Accommodation of Persons who Identify as Transgender which came into effect in March 2017, and were updated in March 2021, teachers are told to keep a student’s transgender identity a secret, even from the child’s parents, and are also instructed to collude with the child at the start of each school year on how to deceive their parents or guardians.

“Some students who identify as transgender are not openly so at home because of safety and/or other reasons. A school shall not disclose a student’s gender status to the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) without the student’s explicit prior consent," reads the guide, labeling loving parents as a risk to their own children. 

“When school staff contacts the home of a student who identifies as transgender, the student should be consulted first to determine an appropriate way to reference the student’s gender identity. Not doing so can potentially put a student’s well-being and safety at risk,” the guide continues.

“If students have first disclosed their gender status to staff, it is strongly suggested that staff privately ask transgender students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in correspondence to the home or at meetings with the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s).” says the guide, encouraging an us-and-them situation, that positions school staff in the compassionate, understanding role, and the parents as untrustworthy, abusive and therefore undeserving of being privy to their child’s self-declared transgender identity.

A recent WRDSB Student Census indicated that 24 percent of participating Grade 7-12 students identified "with at least one 2SLGBTQIA+ orientation," suggesting that there may be a lot of parents in the Waterloo region who are being kept in the dark about their child’s gender identity.

The messages that students in the WRDSB are receiving may be a factor in the extraordinarily high number of students identifying as LGBTQ+.

In January 2021, Carolyn Burjoski, a teacher who had been with the WRDSB for over 20 years, attempted to raise concerns at a board of trustees meeting about the content of certain books in the board’s new “diverse” library. She began her presentation by reading excerpts from Rick by Alex Gino and The Other Boy, by M.G. Hennessey, both on the shelves of the board's elementary schools.

The Other Boy tells the story of a trans-identified female teenager. In the excerpt Burjoski read, the character is at the gender clinic about to progress from puberty blockers to testosterone. The doctor informs the teen that this will likely result in infertility, to which the teen responds: “That’s cool.”

The remaining content of Burjoski’s presentation remains unknown because at that point she was stopped by Board Chair Scott Piatkowski, accused of violating the Ontario Human Rights Code, and ejected from the meeting. She was immediately suspended and forbidden from contacting any of her students. She has since retired and is taking legal action against the board.

Last month, Burjoski revealed materials sent to WRDSB Early Years (JK-Grade 1) teachers instructing them not to teach young children that “boys have penises” and “girls have vaginas,” but rather that “Many boys have penises, and some others do too…Many girls have vaginas and vulvas, some don’t.”

The teaching of gender identity ideology occurs in schools all over Canada, and school boards all across the nation also have similar privacy policies in place to deceive parents of gender-questioning students.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) recently informed staff that students will have the option of being referred to by their chosen name and pronouns, and will be able to change their names on all non-legal documents used by the school, and the OCDSB gender identity and gender expression guidelines also instruct teachers not to inform parents of a child’s self-declared transgender identity.

When two OCDSB trustee candidates in the October school board elections stated that they intended to amend this policy to ensure parents were informed of such a life-changing decision, the CBC and local media outlets branded them transphobic.

The OCDSB also faced a human rights complaint when the mother of a six-year-old girl argued that her daughter had been discriminated against when an OCDSB teacher told the child’s Grade 1 class that there is no such thing as boys or girls during an impromptu lesson on gender identity ideology.

True North News recently reported that Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB) also has a similar confidentiality policy in place. These school boards are far from being the exception. 

Earlier this year, a letter was sent to all school board trustees across Canada requesting that the privacy policy of withholding a child’s transgender identity from parents be revised. The letter explained to trustees that while the practice of affirming a child’s gender identity and accommodating the change of name and pronouns is seen by many as a harmless, non-medical step to help alleviate a gender-confused child’s distress, it is better viewed as a powerful psychotherapeutic intervention that helps to lock the identity into the child’s mind and should therefore never be undertaken without the advice of trained mental health professionals. 

This has since been backed up by the findings of an independent review of England’s gender service, which led to the announced closure of the Tavistock pediatric gender clinic in London and also to the NHS encouraging doctors not to socially transition children because gender incongruence during childhood is almost always just a phase.

Almost none of the 3000 school board trustees who received the letter bothered to respond, but of those that did, many claimed that the privacy policy was completely in line with the human rights code for their province.


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