New Brunswick judge rules provincial school district lacks standing in gender identity policy lawsuit News
New Brunswick judge rules provincial school district lacks standing in gender identity policy lawsuit

The Chief Justice of the eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick ruled on Friday that the Anglophone East District Education Council does not have the legal standing to challenge changes to Policy 713, a gender identity policy made by the provincial government.

Sitting in the provincial Court of King’s Bench, Chief Justice Tracey DeWare ruled that none of the plaintiffs were directly impacted by the changes to the policy in a way that would grant them the legal standing required to challenge it, and the plaintiffs therefore cannot continue their lawsuit against the government.

Chief Justice DeWare also considered whether the plaintiffs could have standing based on public interest. To qualify, they needed to show that the case raised serious justiciable issues, that they had a genuine interest in the matter and that the lawsuit was a reasonable and effective way to bring the issue to court. The judge concluded that these conditions were not sufficiently met.

DeWare also pointed out that there are other, more appropriate avenues to address the issues raised by the education council. Specifically, a separate case filed by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) was deemed a more suitable means for addressing the policy’s potential impact on gender-diverse students. DeWare granted the CCLA standing in their case last December, and a judge is currently reviewing several documents for the case.

Policy 713 states that parental consent is required for the “[f]ormal use of [the] preferred first name for transgender or non-binary students under the age of 16.” The education council argued this policy change could harm students who might not want to disclose their gender identity to unsupportive parents. The lawsuit specifically claimed that Policy 713 infringed on various rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the rights to equity, life and liberty.

The education council expressed disappointment over the ruling and is considering its options moving forward, stating it “remains committed to advocating for policies and practices that support all students” and ensure an inclusive school environment.

The New Brunswick provincial government moved to dissolve the Anglophone East District Education Council in May, arguing that its spending on the lawsuit was a misuse of education funds. The timing of when this request will be considered by a judge is still unclear, and the Anglophone East District Education Council has yet to receive formal notice of this application.