ontario news watch

Quebec education minister rejects hearings on gender identity, prefers expert panel

Quebec’s education minister says he won’t convene a legislative committee on gender identity because he says doing so exposes the sensitive issue to political exploitation.

Instead, Bernard Drainville says he’s open to creating a panel of experts to study the issue.

Quebec’s political class has been seized with questions about gender identity after several recent reports.

A school southeast of Montreal received threats after a nonbinary teacher asked to use the honorific Mx — pronounced Miks — and a school in the province’s northwest planned to provide gender-neutral bathrooms to students for the 2024-25 school year.

Drainville says he doesn’t want the topic to be exploited for partisan purposes, which he says is a temptation among political parties when they gather for committee hearings.

He says an expert panel could be put in place by Christmas to address the pertinent subjects and look at practices in other countries. 

On Tuesday, Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon called on the government to hold legislative hearings to debate the recent controversies, saying schools risk being influenced by “radical left” ideas.

Liberal member André Fortin, meanwhile, said provincial politicians should focus instead on higher-priority issues, like teacher shortages, rather than on mixed-gender toilets.

On Tuesday, Drainville said it was out of the question that Quebec schools would have mixed-gender bathrooms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2023.

The Canadian Press