NBASW Urges Government to Recall Decision to Review Policy 713
The New Brunswick Association of Social Workers (NBASW) echoes the concerns of the New Brunswick Child and Youth Advocate and the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission regarding the Government of New Brunswick’s decision to review Policy 713 and urges the Government to recall the decision, to maintain the safety of LGBTQIA2S+ students in school settings.
Since coming into effect in 2020, Policy 713 has set minimum requirements for schools to create a safe and welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirited (LGBTQIA2+) students. It is crucial that Policy 713 be maintained so that students may continue to self-identify and express themselves, without fear of consequence. “Often, social workers work with people experiencing trauma and crisis, including a growing number of LGBTQIA2+ youth, and removing the Policy’s requirements certainly puts marginalized youth at risk” says NBASW President, Géraldine Poirier Baiani.
LGBTQIA2+ individuals continue to be marginalized by society and face an array of challenges not experienced by cisgender folks, including socioeconomic disadvantages, in addition to experiencing poorer mental and physical health outcomes. These disparities are exacerbated by a lack of support and understanding provided by the community and it is known that LGBTQIA2+ youth are also at a greater risk of experiencing bullying, violence, and suicide. Having safe and accepting families and communities is a protective factor and New Brunswick’s school system must do everything it can to educate young New Brunswickers and provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.
It is vital that the provincial school system properly educates students and prepares them for the real world. This includes providing an affirming education that includes educating New Brunswick students on the spectrum of gender identities and sexualities that exist. Every action taken should serve to bolster the safety and rights of children. As provincial leaders, the Government should be supporting policies that provide safety for New Brunswickers, particularly some of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. “It is heartwarming to see so many New Brunswickers, particularly young New Brunswickers, rallying in support of Policy 713” Poirier Baiani adds.
The NBASW represents over 2,250 social workers province-wide who work in a wide variety of settings, including school systems. Social workers work with some of society’s most vulnerable individuals, including children and youth who identify as being part of the LGBTQIA2+ community and will forever work to bolster their rights, well-being, and safety.