Canada to take kids from Parents that don’t recognize Gender Confusion

A Canadian province has passed a law that gives rights to the government to take away children from families that don’t accept their kid’s chosen “gender identity” or “gender expression”.


Minister of Child and Family Services Michael Coteau, who introduced the bill, said “I would consider that a form of abuse, when a child identifies one way and a caregiver is saying no, you need to do this differently.”

“If it’s abuse, and if it’s within the definition, a child can be removed from that environment and placed into protection where the abuse stops.”

Was the law (Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act of 2017) just passed? Does it permit the Canadian government to act that way?

  • 4
    You might be better off asking if the article is correctly representing the intent and scope of the law. My impression is that it mainly applies to adopted and foster kids, and the article is making it seem like all kids. Jun 23, 2017 at 21:07
  • 2
    @DevSolar Looking at the bill, I don't think that this form of abuse is actually covered. As Bob mentioned, most of it is about taking these issues into consideration when placing children in other peoples care (and even then only "where possible"). It does also mention that any person determining best interests of a child should at least take these matters into consideration, but the article in the OP seems very far-fetched. I'm not sure we can answer the question without waiting to see how the law will be applied.
    – tim
    Jun 23, 2017 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


The letter of the law is available online, e.g. here:

An Act to enact the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017, to amend and repeal the Child and Family Services Act and to make related amendments to other Acts

The on.ca domain implies that's an official Ontario government web site.

In it you find statements like,

The paramount purpose of this Act is to promote the best interests, protection and well-being of children.

Other purposes

The additional purposes of this Act, so long as they are consistent with the best interests, protection and well-being of children, are to recognize the following:

  1. While parents may need help in caring for their children, that help should give support to the autonomy and integrity of the family unit and, wherever possible, be provided on the basis of mutual consent.
  2. The least disruptive course of action that is available and is appropriate in a particular case to help a child, including the provision of prevention services, early intervention services and community support services, should be considered.
  3. Services to children and young persons should be provided in a manner that,

    i. respects a child’s or young person’s need for continuity of care and for stable relationships within a family and cultural environment,
    ii. takes into account physical, emotional, spiritual, mental and developmental needs and differences among children and young persons,
    iii. takes into account a child’s or young person’s race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, disability, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,
    iv. takes into account a child’s or young person’s cultural and linguistic needs,
    v. provides early assessment, planning and decision-making to achieve permanent plans for children and young persons in accordance with their best interests, and
    vi. includes the participation of a child or young person, the child’s or young person’s parents and relatives and the members of the child’s or young person’s extended family and community, where appropriate.

Without wanting to interpret the law for you, I'll try to assess whether the claim made in the article, quoted in the OP, is true. A principle claim in the article is the headline, i.e.

Canada to take kids from Parents that don’t recognize Gender Confusion

I'd note that:

  • It's the Province of Ontario: which though the biggest province in Canada is not the whole of Canada.

  • Contrary the claim in the headline quoted in the OP, the law doesn't promise that "kids will be taken": it does promise that government service providers will take into account a lot of things related to the child's identity, including their creed (e.g. Protestant or Catholic), sex, sexual orientation, etc., etc.

  • It also promises to consider the "least disruptive course of action" etc.

  • Text quoted later in the article, i.e. where the article says,

    The old law used to allow parents to “direct the child’s education and religious upbringing.” The new bill, however, amends such rights of the parents.

    It now emphasizes a child’s “identity and allows parents only to “direct the child or young person’s education and upbringing, in accordance with the child’s or young person’s creed, community identity and cultural identity.”

    ... appears to be true: e.g. the text "to direct the child’s or young person’s education and upbringing, in accordance with the child’s or young person’s creed, community identity and cultural identity" can be found in the text of the bill (in section 14 whose title is "Parental consent, etc.").

I found a source for the quote from Michael Coteau -- the article titled Child protection bill passes as social conservatives fear 'overreach by the state' (which was originally on the QP Briefing web site) includes the following:

Prominent social conservative groups, however, decried the swapping out of the term “religious faith” for a child’s “creed” – in alignment with the Ontario Human Rights Code – as one of the factors for consideration of the child’s best interest. Following the clause-by-clause in May, the law specified that “‘Creed’ is defined to include religion.”

Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau said a split of opinion between parents and kids around LGBTQ identity would not be grounds for apprehension.

“[Y]ou can’t remove a kid because the parent disagrees with the fact that a child is gay. What you can do is remove a child if that child is being abused because of that,” Coteau told QP Briefing. “Abuse is abuse.”

“It’s the same way I would not allow a Black child to be abused because they were Black, or a Catholic child to be abused because they’re Catholic,” he said.

Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth, called the legislation a “paradigm shift” centred around a fresh “commitment to the participation of children and youth in every decision that affects them.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Gunnarson, vice-president of the Campaign Life Coalition, called it “overreach by the state” that would deter some foster parents from welcoming new children.

“If they’re forced to collaborate with a child that wants to change his or her identity, then that’s just a nogo. I wouldn’t do it. As a Catholic man I wouldn’t accept a child that I had to help transform from boy to girl or the other way around,” he said.

The legislation includes “Katelynn’s principle” throughout, which comes from a recommendation from the inquest into the death of Katelynn Sampson that children’s voices and rights be considered throughout the child protection process.

So I hope that puts Coteau's quote in context.

Apparently "Gender identity and expression" have been explicitly recognized as "human rights" in Ontario since 2012 (reference).

The Coteau quote in the OP might mismatch the QP Briefing quote. The former says that he considers that "the caregiver saying no" would be "a form of abuse", and the latter says that "disagreeing" isn't abuse per se.

It may be that Coteau said both at different times (apparently contradicting himself), otherwise I consider QP Briefing to be probably the more credible/accurate source/quote.

If I can add my personal opinion, it's that the Ontario government isn't usually too concerned with one's family life.

So if the article gives the impression that the police are likely to show up one day and take your kid away from you, then I think that impression is false.

One of the areas where the government is explicitly concerned (and involved) is where the child is in foster care (i.e. a ward of the state, a.k.a. a "crown ward"). Then the child's welfare is, I think, ultimately and directly the government's responsibility. The government doesn't look after those children directly though, but kind of subcontracts that responsibility e.g. to foster parents and/or Children's Aid Societies (CAS).

Children's Aid Societies (CAS) in Ontario, Canada, are separate, independent organizations which have each been approved by the Ontario government's Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide child protection services. The declared goal of CASs is to "promote the best interests, protection and well being of children".

Children's Aid Societies have authority under provincial legislation[5] to remove children from homes where they face either a risk of harm, or have experienced harm. Children who cannot remain with caregivers are sometimes placed with other family members ("kin"), family friends ("kith"), or in customary care, which is an option for aboriginal children. In other cases, children can be placed into foster homes or group homes, as well as being adopted.

There have been CAS-related scandals in the past, in Canada (including in Ontario).

I think that this new legislation is intended primarily to govern or improve the governance of decision-making associated with crown wards.

For example, Ontario introduces ‘historic’ changes to child-protection laws says,

Advocates, child protection workers and youth are praising the introduction of historic provincial legislation that puts the needs of Ontario’s most vulnerable children at the heart of every decision about their care.

For Richard Marcano, 22, who grew up in the care of children’s aid, it was an “emotional” moment.

“It gives me hope,” he said. “Not just for me, but for the youth who are still in care and for the next generations to come. Youth feel like they don’t have a voice. This gives them a voice.”

This is inline with my previous quote from Michael Coteau (above), where the dissenting quote is from "Jeff Gunnarson" who is quoted as saying,

“If they’re forced to collaborate with a child that wants to change his or her identity, then that’s just a nogo. I wouldn’t do it. As a Catholic man I wouldn’t accept a child that I had to help transform from boy to girl or the other way around,” he said

... and that this would "deter some foster parents from welcoming new children."

So my impression is that the law is less about "government taking kids away from parents", and is more about the government's telling decision-makers (e.g. CAS, social workers, courts) that they're expected to consider the child (the child's "identity", background, creed, etc.) when deciding who might or might not be (i.e. whether someone might be) a suitable foster parent for a specific crown ward.

Perhaps it's true, though, that the change in law may also affect decisions about whether children need to be taken into care (by changing the definition of "child's rights" versus "parental authority").

My personal experience of the Ontario government is that some offices can be overworked, impersonal, bureaucratic, laissez-faire ... and in general I feel predisposed to favour legislation which instructs them to better consider the individuals who unfortunately become their wards.

Also I don't understand (or don't agree with) the premise behind this statement:

Meanwhile, Jeff Gunnarson, vice-president of the Campaign Life Coalition, called it “overreach by the state” that would deter some foster parents from welcoming new children.

So far as I know, when foster care is involved, the State is acting in loco parentis, and as such is ultimately responsible for choosing and instructing (and supervising) appropriate foster care.

  • 1
    Having talked about whether the new Act might be especially intended to govern foster care and crown wards, I note that the definition of "parent" within the text of Act is broad, i.e. it is "the person who has lawful custody of the child" (or all the people who have lawful custody, excluding those who are unavailable or unable to act).
    – ChrisW
    Jun 24, 2017 at 13:30
  • Nitpick: The .on.ca domain third-level domain is not restricted to the Ontario government. Any Ontario-based person or organization was permitted to register .on.ca domain names. (New registrations have not been accepted since 2010.) In the case of ontla.on.ca, however, the registrant is indeed the government (or more specifically, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario).
    – Psychonaut
    Jan 23 at 16:23
  • @Psychonaut I get "no domain" when I try to browse from that hyperlink, conversely Google still finds the named Act (from other domains/web sites) if I search for it by exact name.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 23 at 21:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .