OUR VIEW: SOGI is about inclusiveness, plain and simple

You would think a plan to make our public schools more inclusive and accepting of all people would be something that isn’t controversial.

You would be wrong.

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The SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) education materials introduced by the B.C. Ministry of Education aim to make our public schools a safer place because, according to the provincial government, a whopping 64 per cent of LGTBQ+ students feel unsafe at school.

According to the SOGI 123 website, it is less of a curriculum and more of a policy and set of resources, which includes SOGI-inclusive lesson plans meant to make schools inclusive and safe for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities. It includes a school code of conduct and information about how to make environments safe and inclusive, and curriculum resources that can be used in lesson plans to further the goals of the overarching policy.

Sounds sensible. After all, who wouldn’t support making schools a safer place for LGTBQ+ students by trying to tackle homophobia and transphobia?

Well, there are some people. Instead of embracing SOGI, which is basically a set of positive goals and resources, some are actually organizing against it. One group, called Culture Guard, described SOGI as a way to “indoctrinate” kids into some sort of sexual deviancy.

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld bizarrely said that allowing children to choose their gender was “child abuse.”

Right here in our own community, a series of anti-SOGI events are coming to churches near you.

Canadian Council for Faith and Family Values, a New Westminster- and Burnaby-based faith group, has hosted at least three “STOP SOGI 123” events in the Lower Mainland since mid-July. Four meetings are scheduled in New West churches over the next two months, and other churches in Burnaby have also expressed interest, according to an event organizer (See the story on page 9).

The group says SOGI 123 is a threat to children, parental rights and traditional and Christian values.

Imagine thinking that promoting an end to homophobia and transphobia is some sort of threat.

It’s 2018, and inclusivity is where our society should be headed. People in our community agreed enough with this to stage a counter-protest – or “love rally” – last Thursday when an anti-SOGI event was hosted by a New Westminster church.

New West residents Louise Cournoyer and her son Will attended the rally. Louise said she supports the LGBTQ community and SOGI because she wants children to feel accepted.

“It’s so important to protect children who are members of the LGBTQ community and include them, for them to have a voice in the school system,” she said. “By implementing SOGI, changing the way we talk about gender, about sexual orientation, it’s extremely important.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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