22nd September 2023

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Sask. school division takes to social media to bust myths about gender and sexual identity policies

A school division in Saskatchewan has taken it upon itself to burst myths around school rules relating to gender and sexual identity and propagate what it calls the reality of school policies. 

The Good Spirit School Division (GSSD), which operates 28 schools in 15 communities throughout east-central Saskatchewan, published a Facebook post Wednesday entitled ‘Myth vs. Reality.’ It lays out four “myths” with corresponding fact checks.  

“Recently, there have been several myths and misconceptions circulating about the Good Spirit School Division’s policies and actions regarding the protection of student rights,” the Facebook post read. 

The school division says it aims to focus further on each of these misconceptions in the next few days.  

Last month, the province announced a policy that requires parental consent for students under the age of 16 wanting to change their preferred pronouns or names.

Quintin Robertson, director of education at GSSD, said there has been a fair amount of discussion directed toward schools since the announcement.

“In essence, we were trying to arm our community with knowledge and accurate information,” he said in an emailed response. 

A man in black suit and blue shirt looking at the camera.
Quintin Roberston is the director of education at the Good Spirit School Division. (Submitted by Good Spirit School Division)

One myth the post tackles is that students are allowed to identify as “furries” and use litter boxes in schools. The second is that gender-neutral washrooms promote a particular ideology. The third and the fourth have to do with the conception that schools promote explicit material and homosexuality.

The school division said that it adheres to guidelines from the Ministry of Education to design its curriculum.

In a follow-up post on Thursday, it expanded on the myth about “furries” and litter boxes. The division said it doesn’t allow students to be dressed as “furries” and that claims about litter boxes in classrooms are “completely false.” 

Margo Allaire, board chair at Yorkton Pride, has a grandchild entering kindergarten this year. Allaire said that with the fast-changing policy dynamics, the division’s post is important. 

“I’m really pleased that they addressed this and it’s really very timely — start of the school year,” Allaire said. 

Allaire said that with the recent policy change and conversations around it, the internet has been riddled with disinformation. 

“This infographic shared by the Good Spirit School Division is just a good model. I think that if other school divisions took this and did something similar it would be very helpful as a first step in some of that communication between the schools and the parents.”

A person with a colourful tee.
Margo Allaire, who is the board chair at Yorkton Pride and has a grandchild entering kindergarten this year, says the Facebook post is an important initiative. (Submitted by Margo Allaire)

In an emailed response, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education distanced itself from the school division’s decision to speak out about these myths.

“School divisions are responsible for the content they provide using social media channels and the information they provide to their school communities.”

The ministry said that at this time it isn’t planning to put out any similar posts.

“The Government of Saskatchewan believes school divisions are in the best position to provide information to their school communities,” the email said.