Grande Prairie Composite High School students were spotted outside in a province-wide walkout in protest of the Alberta Government’s recent change to the province’s transgender policies.
Around 20 students stood outside the school’s main entrance with signs reading “protect trans kids” and the transgender pride flag.
Sam Ellwood, a student and outspoken transgender youth advocate in Grande Prairie says the turnout could be seen as both a positive and concerning feat.
“We have an excellent turnout but I’m a bit scared that it has less to do with the fact that we’ve been doing more community engagement and more to do with the fact that things have gotten progressively worse over time,” she says.
Ellwood says her peers feel frustrated with the changes in legislation regarding the requirement of parental consent before a youth under the age of 15, chooses to change their name or pronouns in particular. She says schools should be a “safe haven” for queer youth, and the new requirements could take that idea away for some students.
“Schools for a long time have been a safe haven for transgender and otherwise queer individuals to present themselves, and I feel like having enforced parental consent for that to be respected could put a lot of people in danger.”
Additionally, Ellwood cites the change to “gender-affirming surgeries” which bars children under the age of 17 from receiving certain procedures such as mastectomy for breast removal, and hormone therapy as an overstep by Premier Smith.
According to the premier, the changes simply act as “guidelines” for trans youth to be sure of their choices and will be implemented “with the best interests of the child in mind.”