MLA Janis Irwin discusses the potential harm of the UCP government’s new policies on queer and transgender youth

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Campus, News, Politics | 0 comments

The effects of Premier Danielle Smith’s new legislation

Premier Danielle Smith has announced multiple new policies to come this fall that will directly affect transgender and queer youth. These policies are expected to negatively impact the privacy, safety, and freedom of queer youth.

These policies include restrictions on youth changing their preferred names and pronouns at school, gender-affirming care, sex education, and parental disclosure. Smith believes the policies will protect transgender and queer youth; however, NDP MLA Janis Irwin disagrees and sees these policies as an attack on them.

“I can honestly tell you I was concerned when I heard something was going to come, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad,” says Irwin. “This is going to have a chilling effect on queer and trans youth across Alberta and, in fact, across Canada. These will be the most draconian laws that we have seen in Canada to date, and that’s pretty scary and not something that Alberta should be leading on.”


“Part of the issue is there are kids who now will not have a safe space at school, and they certainly don’t have a safe space at home, so where are those kids going to go?”

Janis Irwin, MLA Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood


Many queer and transgender youth rely on school to be a safe space to be themselves when they aren’t accepted at home. These policies have the power to remove schools as safe spaces and place youth in uncomfortable situations.

“Part of the issue is there are kids who now will not have a safe space at school, and they certainly don’t have a safe space at home, so where are those kids going to go? For some of them, school was their only safe sanctuary, and that’s gone as well. I think about those kids, and that’s why when we head back to the legislature, we’re going to do all we can to fight for them.”

A major concern for queer and transgender youth is the likelihood of ending up in dangerous situations if they aren’t accepted by their families. Compared to their counterparts, transgender and gender non-conforming people are seven times more likely to use drugs, five times more likely to experience mental health issues, five times more likely to attempt suicide, and twice as likely to experience houselessness

Irwin discusses the reality for queer and transgender youth in Edmonton right now. “We already see in Edmonton that queer and trans youth are overrepresented on the streets. We know that the youth shelters are over capacity, so I have a really significant concern here that we’re going to see more queer and trans youth on the streets without the services and supports that they need,” says Irwin.


“We already see in Edmonton that queer and trans youth are overrepresented on the streets because a lot of young people, if they come out to their parents and they’re rejected, they end up on the streets.”

Janis Irwin, MLA Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood


Irwin hopes that Albertans who are against these policies start taking action now to prevent them from moving forward.

“I am encouraging people to write their MLAs, write the premier. Sign all the petitions you can. We need to be loud, and we need to be many in response to this. We’ve seen the UCP backtrack on other issues before, so I want to be hopeful that we can potentially, if not stop this completely, at least roll back some of the most egregious elements.”


Photo from Janisirwin.albertandp.ca

Sydney Pietsch

The Griff

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