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Company apologizes for data issue affecting names of some Saskatchewan LGBTQ students

SASKATOON — An online education portal used by parents and students in Saskatchewan is apologizing for a data issue that affected some LGBTQ students.

Edsby, which runs the portal, says a bug during a system update caused the birth names of students to show up on accounts instead of their preferred names. 

Some LGBTQ students say because the bug allowed their classmates to view their birth names, it wrongly named them and outed them. 

Edsby says this has since been resolved and takes responsibility. 

It says it understands the timing was poor, given Saskatchewan’s new rules that require parental consent when children under 16 years old want to change their names or pronouns at school.

Human rights and LGBTQ organizations have condemned the change, saying the policy outs transgender kids who aren’t ready to come out to their parents. 

Dallas Kachan, Edsby’s vice-president of marketing, said the change wasn’t made to accommodate requests.

“This was an unintentional software problem, not any political statement or guidance from customers.”

He apologized to school divisions affected by the data issue. Kachan said eight customers, which include school divisions or private schools, were affected.

Saskatoon Public Schools said in a statement it had disabled Edsby logins while the issue was ongoing. 

“The well-being and safety of our students remains our top priority,” it said.

Kachan said the company is determining how many students and school divisions were affected.

He said the company will investigate what caused the issue.

“We’ve been making changes in this area of gender expression in our system to properly align to the diversity of policies that are emerging around the world,” Kachan said. “And as a toolmaker, we’re focused on trying to accommodate this diversity.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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