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New Canadian Law on Gender Identity Has Conservatives Fuming

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The Canadian province of Ontario passed a groundbreaking law earlier this month granting affirmative rights to LGBTQ children. The law, which would allow the government to remove a child from a home that does not accept the child’s gender identity or gender expression, has caused a deep rift between conservatives and liberals, with some conservatives even calling the bill “totalitarian.” What does a bill like this mean? And could the U.S. follow suit?

The Canadian Law Would Grant Strong Affirmative Rights to LGBTQ Children

The bill, called the Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act of 2017, or Bill 89, passed 63 to 23. It replaces the previous law governing child protective services, foster care and adoption.

Canada
Credit: Source.

The “paramount” purpose of the bill “is to promote the best interests, protection and well-being of children.” To that end, the bill requires that “a child’s or young person’s race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” be weighed when considering what those best interests are.  

While other Canadian provinces have begun to fold in protections for gender identity and gender expression, this bill is unique in that it does more than seek to passively end discrimination on those bases. Rather, by folding the child’s gender identity into the child’s “best interests,” the law would arguably allow children who do not feel as though their gender identity were being honored in the family setting to be removed from that setting by obtaining a protective order–even outside the foster context. The Minister of Child and Family Services, Michael Coteau, who introduced the bill, affirmed this interpretation of the law. He stated that failure to respect a child’s gender identity could lead to removal from the

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  • Ali Wilkinson is a lawyer and writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, Elephant Journal and Scary Mommy, among others. She blogs at Run, Knit, Love.

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