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This student is stuck in the middle of Canada’s gender policy debate

In May, the Progressive Conservative government of New Brunswick caused a national uproar when it announced changes to a previously obscure piece of provincial education legislation. The policy, known as Policy 713, was originally intended to protect LGBTQ+ students by requiring school personnel to use students’ preferred names and pronouns and to ask for their permission before informing parents about any changes. However, the revised policy now requires parental consent for any changes to a student’s name, pronouns, or gender identity. This change has sparked a heated debate, with some arguing that it protects parental rights and others arguing that it endangers vulnerable students. The debate has since spread to other provinces, with thousands of Canadians protesting against the teaching of gender identity in classrooms. Teresa Mead, a mental health therapist, and her 14-year-old son, Ollie Mead-Ramayya, who came out as trans last year, live in Saskatoon and are directly affected by the new policy. They share their thoughts on the impact of the policy and the anxieties of coming out to family members. 

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