The Existential Threat of Alberta’s Regressive Policies on Trans Youth, Sex-Ed, and Trans Healthcare

In a callous announcement made last week, Alberta won the proverbial “race to the bottom” in regards to anti-trans legislation spreading across Canada and the U.S.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced her government will be introducing sweeping policy changes that will force transgender students back into the closet and interfere in the medical care of trans young people and their families. The government is also going to undermine the evidence-based sexual health education all students deserve.

These policies themselves are devastating, but they also represent an existential threat to both 2S/LGBTQIA+ inclusion and rights, as well as to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Since the hard-won battles of the 90s and early 2000s on queer inclusion at school and access to comprehensive sex-ed, social conservatives have been vying for a new line of attack through which they can mainstream their ideologies and policy proposals. Lo and behold, they’ve found it under the guise of “parental rights.” With this slogan, social conservatives are able to insinuate that teachers are keeping secrets from parents, that schools are pushing some insidious gender ideology, and that we’re performing dangerous medical interventions on children and youth.

Parsing through Alberta’s proposals reveals some terrifying precedents. For instance, if this government can meddle in health services for trans youth, what might future governments meddle in? “Parental consent and notification” policies set the stage for restriction on, say, abortion access for young people. Requiring parental notification for abortion would be a staggering restriction on the rights and freedoms of young people and would result in even greater barriers to abortion access for those who need it.

Look also to the requirement of an “opt-in” from parents for every school lesson related to sex-ed. This will deny thousands of young people access to evidence-based education on healthy relationships, consent, sexual health, and diverse identities. Without access to this education, we will see higher rates of sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases, bullying of queer students, and so much more.

Finally, forcing trans students back into the closet at school unless they have a permission slip from their parents insinuates there’s something wrong or dangerous about being trans. It’s not a far leap to obligating parental consent for a student to participate in a Gay-Straight Alliance, or to be openly gay at school.

Setting aside where this could go next, we should all be concerned with government interference in issues of gender, sexuality, and healthcare in flagrant disregard for established best practices, clinical guidelines, and scientific evidence. If governments can meddle in sensitive areas without bothering to be in alignment with science, it sets a terrifying precedent for further ideologically- or politically-motivated interference in other aspects of our lives.

What’s at stake in Alberta is the freedom, rights, and health of trans young people—and so much more. For all these reasons and more, it’s a precedent that we cannot allow to stand.

And that’s why my team at the Society of Queer Momentum is pulling out all the stops to halt these policies in their tracks. We’re tapping in, alongside advocates, allies, parents, and youth from across Alberta, but we can’t do it alone.

In the coming days, we’ll be launching a campaign urging people across Canada to speak out. If you want to add your voice to our advocacy—and stay in the loop about further calls to action—join our mailing list at


Written by Fae Johnstone

Disponible en français.


About CBRC

Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) promotes the health of people of diverse sexualities and genders through research and intervention development.
The Existential Threat of Alberta’s Regressive Policies on Trans Youth, Sex-Ed, and Trans Healthcare
The Existential Threat of Alberta’s Regressive Policies on Trans Youth, Sex-Ed, and Trans Healthcare
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