Parenting Youths in Modern Gender Identities and its Legal Implications

Parenting Youths in Modern Gender Identities and its Legal ImplicationsOn behalf of Osuji & Smith posted in Parenting on Tuesday, November 20, 2018.

Youth gender diversity in Canadian society is a fact, and it is present at all levels of socio-economical classes, ethnic groups, and racial backgrounds. 

All parents want what’s best for their kids. But providing support isn’t always easy, especially if you are the parent of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) child. In many ways no different from their peers, LGBTQ youth face some unique challenges that parents often feel unprepared to tackle.

New Ontario legislation that has replaced or amended acts affecting children, youth and families have recognized gender identity and gender expression as a protected area, a further example of how family law and the rights of children are evolving and may affect custody disputes and more.

The new Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 received royal assent on June 1st, and expands previous legislation to include, among other things, “a child’s or young person’s race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, disability, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”

The new legislation may, nonetheless, provide challenges, in developing a legal framework, if there is a child protection proceeding by the Children’s Aid Society the court will need to give some guidance in the legal analysis it applies in respect to the child’s right to have its gender identity or expression respected; the issue may also arise in custody cases where one parent respects a child’s self-identification, and the other does not.

Still, there are some questions the court will need to answer and provide lawyers and the public with some guidance.  For example, what age would be appropriate for a child to identify with a sex other than the one they were born to? How we can recognize a child’s right to define, taking into account their age and maturity, do we need to wait until puberty, or can it be at a younger generation? If you have more questions like these, please contact Osuji and Smith, and we would be glad to provide appropriate guidance. 

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