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Questions linger over N.B. government review of LGBTQ+ policy


New Brunswick’s premier was grilled Tuesday over his government’s plan to review a three-year-old policy designed to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ persons in the province.

But, things quickly turned when Blaine Higgs was asked by reporters whether kids are born gay.

"I'm not going to surmise or be hypothetical I don't know ... I don't know,” the Premier replied.

The premier also questioned whether kids should attend drag queen story times. These are children's events hosted by drag queens. Advocates say they’re designed to introduce children to LGBTQ+ people, though critics say they confuse young audiences.

"Are we asking should kids in elementary school and kindergarten be exposed to drag queen reading time is that what you're asking because no I don't think they should be at that age," the premier said.

The premier was also asked about conversion therapy.

" I can't speak to... well it may be a reality, I'm not saying I'm in support of that reality, or I'm not,” Higgs said. “But, my point would be you know today there are a lot of decisions that would never have been quite the same many years ago,” he continued.

Prior to the scrum, Policy 713 was the focus of question period.

The policy originally established minimum standards for schools to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students.

The Higgs government is reviewing the policy because the department of education says they've received hundreds of complaints.

The department provided the province's Child and Youth Advocate with only four emails regarding the policy - one of which asked to strengthen it.

"The minister can review anything he likes,” Kelly Lamrock said.

He came out today with findings and recommendations following an investigation of the review of Policy 713.

“Our position is lets have clear terms of reference, make it clear that the rights and aims of the policy are going to remain, and give students and teachers a voice in their own community,” the advocate said.  “I think those are our guidelines.”

Lamrock said he doesn’t like the education department’s review process, saying the department shouldn’t revisit decisions based on three emails.

“We don't send reviews out without terms of reference, we don't start reviews and not articulate what we're supposed to be reviewing,” he said. 

The province’s opposition Liberals had plenty to say about the review process. 

"The three complaints that came in before the review seem to be very different to the complaints that have come in since the government has initiated it,” said Susan Holt, Leader of NB’s Liberal Party. 

“It's the government's role as a leader to address those fears in clear communication with explanations of their policy, not try to divide parents into us and them categories,” Holt added.

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