Children and youth in Canada deserve safe and inclusive spaces

February 15, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is concerned that during debate over some recent legal and policy changes in Canada, what is being lost are the human rights, health, and safety of two-spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse youth.

Over the past few years, we have seen inaccurate and harmful stereotypes and arguments used to deny the rights of trans people. These arguments are similar to those that have been used over many decades against sexual orientation rights.

We have also seen an increasing normalization of views in public discourse that can sow the seeds of intolerance, which can have devastating impacts. In fact, a 2021 Trans PULSE Canada report found that two in five trans and non-binary youth in Canada have considered suicide; one in ten have attempted it.

No matter someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation, everyone has the right to the full enjoyment of their human rights. This includes children and youth. We cannot backtrack on years of support and progress in advancing the rights of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada.

All children and youth in Canada have the right to live and to learn free from discrimination related to their sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. This is recognized in federal, provincial, and territorial human rights codes, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Canadian and international human rights law requires that all governments in Canada honour their obligations to put the best interests of the child first and foremost, and to protect the rights of children and youth, including members of 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities. An integral part of respecting the rights of children and youth is recognizing young people’s right to autonomy, development, education, and self expression. They have the human right to have their views taken seriously when decisions are made that affect their lives.

No child should live in fear or shame for who they are or how they express themselves.


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