Questions and answers: Psychiatrist gives his opinion on new s*x education policies in Saskatchewan

Groups gathered in large protests and clashes across the country on Wednesday to push for change in s*x education. New educational policies implemented by the province were at the forefront in Saskatchewan.

In August, the Ministry of Education announced that any student under the age of 16 would need parental consent to use a preferred name or pronoun in cla*s and that parents would be able to choose whether or not their child would receive a s*x education.

PKBNEWS’ Lisa Dutton was joined Thursday by psychiatrist Dr. Sara Dungavell to talk about LGBTQ2 mental health.

These questions and answers have been shortened for clarity and time. The full interview can be found in the video above.

Duton: “What myths would you like to dispel? »

Dunavell: “I think what scares a lot of parents the most – those who oppose the idea that we should educate our children about gender identity and s****l orientation – is the idea that it This is a sort of indoctrination. This is not indoctrination, any more than teaching our children anything is not indoctrination. It’s just about teaching them about the world, and we all want our children to have the best education possible to learn the most complete set of facts possible and we rely on teachers to tackle very difficult or complicated topics, the break it down into developmentally appropriate pieces, then teach them to children as they grow so they understand what the world is and its complexities. This includes talking about things like s****l orientation and gender identity.

Dutton: “Transgender children have much higher suicide rates than cisgender children. What types of support do trans children need to survive? »

Dunavell: “The most important thing any trans child needs to reduce their risk of suicide to the same level as any other child is a very supportive family. We must involve families so that these children achieve the best possible results. Unfortunately, there are children whose parents simply cannot do this. School may be the safest place to explore their identity and talk to a trusted adult instead of just telling strangers on the internet.

“We want schools to be a safe place for that to happen, to have private conversations with safe, well-educated adults who have experience having these conversations with people. Children should be able to do this without risking their parents being informed at home, being kicked out, being physically abused, or otherwise feeling unsafe. We want to make sure these children are not at greater risk.

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Dutton: “Some parents say their children are simply too young to know or understand their gender identity. How old do you think it is? Is this a concern?

Dunavell: “It’s usually between 11 and 14, let’s say. For children in this age range, puberty is just beginning, and we can actually pause puberty (thanks to puberty blockers) and they can continue to develop their brains so they can continue to develop reasoning more complex and abstract, thinking more deeply about these topics, really. engaging with who they want to be in the world, how they want to be in their body, and then starting to make permanent decisions when they’re actually a little older.

“A lot of people are very scared because they love their children and don’t understand trans things. They are afraid that we will make permanent changes when the children are just babies and cannot make these decisions. But we are not. We actually wait a while until they are a little older and able to think more clearly about these decisions.

Duton: “When we look at the rules, given that the province has indicated that they will not be changing these new rules, what do you think the path forward would be? »

Dunavell: “What they’re really saying is they won’t let teachers be safe adults for their children. Agencies like LB Saskatoon, the Sexual Health Center or others will need to do more to ensure that children have safe places where they can talk to safe adults. But they’re not in schools where they don’t see the kids all the time. They don’t have the ability to be present and supportive like teachers do.

“I think the best way forward is for the province to change these rules because they make things less safe for our children that we love and want good things for.” If my children don’t feel comfortable talking to me about something, I would really like them to have a caregiver to talk to who is trained to talk to children, instead of that child feeling really alone and not have no one to turn to.

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