Montreal Teacher Files Court Challenge After School Tells Her to Conceal Student’s Pronouns From Parents

Montreal Teacher Files Court Challenge After School Tells Her to Conceal Student’s Pronouns From Parents
The Quebec Superior Court is seen in Montreal on March 27, 2019. (The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz)
Chandra Philip

A Montreal teacher has launched a court challenge against Quebec’s education ministry, saying her school instructed her to lie to a student’s parents about the teen’s gender transition.

The courts have ordered that the teacher’s name not be released due to confidentiality.

The teacher, who is represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), said her school administration told her to lie to the parents of a 14-year-old girl who was looking to transition to male, according to a JCCF news release.

The school used directives found in the education ministry’s guide on trans and non-binary persons’ gender identity to create procedures making it illegal to inform parents or guardians if a student was looking to transition genders.

In October 2023, the school told teachers that they needed to use male pronouns for the student when in class, but when the teen’s parents were present teachers were directed to use female pronouns.

“They gave this order even though there was no evidence or suspicion of parental abuse,” the JCCF said.

The teacher told the school that she was willing to use the student’s preferred pronouns but would not lie to parents about the teen’s gender transition, including at an upcoming parent/teacher interview.

The school allowed the teacher to submit a written report to the parents rather than attend an in-person meeting. There were no pronouns used in the report, the JCCF said.

However, “the school made it clear that the teacher would be obligated to meet with the parents during a parent/teacher interview scheduled for the spring if the parents requested such interview,” the organization said.

The teacher was advised that if she spoke to the parents about the child’s gender transition, she would be fired immediately.

“I couldn’t live with myself if I did that,” the teacher stated. “I won’t look them in the eye and intentionally lie about the fact that we are enabling their child to undergo a significant psychosocial intervention without their knowledge.”

She also said that transparent collaboration with parents was “essential” to her job as a teacher and for the long-term well-being of students.

“Lying to parents about how we are treating their children, or about what is going on with children at school, violates the principles of my vocation,” she said.

The teacher opted to file a constitutional challenge to the Quebec Superior Court over the ministry’s guide, saying it contravenes parental rights protected by Section 7 of the Charter, the JCCF said. The teacher also believes that the ministry’s guide violates Section 2 of the Charter protecting the teacher’s right to freedom of conscience.

It is the first time that a court action has raised the freedom of conscience issue without also raising freedom of religion, the teacher’s lawyer, Oliver Séguin, said.

“It’s true that the prohibition on lying is common to all religions, but my client’s conscientious objection is not religious in nature,” he said in the news release.

One of the issues that the case has raised is how the ministry’s guide appears to deliberately mislead people by “falsely claiming to translate the letter of the law.”

The JCCF noted that in one section, called Legal Framework, the guide cites Section 60 of the Civil Code of Quebec, which says that children aged 14 or older can change their names. However, the guide overlooks Section 62, which states that parents must be notified of the request to change a name. They are also allowed to object to the change.

The guide also cites Article 71 of the Civil Code, which permits a request for a change of gender for minors aged 14 and over.

“But again, the authors of the Guide fail to note Article 73, which states that parents must be able to object to any such change,” the JCCF said.

The Epoch Times contacted the Quebec education ministry for comment but didn’t hear back by publication time.