VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – People both in support of and against the Ministry of Education’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity resource will be out in full force on Monday.
Two rallies, one for and one against SOGI 123, are planned in front of the BC Teachers’ Federation office.
Those who stand for SOGI say they want to send the message that discrimination and division will not be tolerated, and also want to tell educators who work toward inclusive environments they’re not alone.
BCTF President Glen Hansman has been vocal about the SOGI debate before, and says he’s encouraged to see people stand for the resource.
“When things were flaring up in the Chilliwack School District… because of the hateful comments made by Trustee Barry Neufeld there, it was really wonderful to see the parents, members of the community, grand parents and others come and say ‘enough is enough,'” he says. “It’s 2018, our schools have to be safe. And so to have that many members of the community come out to rally to show their support is amazing, and if that happens again in Vancouver [Monday], that’s wonderful.”
He stands by the idea that schools need to be a safe and inclusive space for all students. Hansman adds the BCTF has been very proactive when it comes to advocating for all students, and is happy the province has taken more steps to help protect LGBTQ members.
Kari Simpson with Culture Guard is heading up the counter rally, calling for an end to “the politicization of schools,” which she believes parents who oppose SOGI 123 want. She claims it is part of a “sex activist agenda.”
Hansman says those behind the Stop-SOGI 123 rally don’t represent the majority.
“It’s vexatious, it’s annoying, for sure, but it’s 2018. Canadian society has moved on,” he tells NEWS 1130. “The voices that she’s representing are a very, very small minority, and they don’t represent where people in our communities are at, and it’s inconsistent with the laws of the land.”
Hansman says schools need to be free of all forms of discrimination.
“There’s no going back on the fact that schools and the public education system — like all public services — have to be proactive in ensuring that all people who are protected by the Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination under the BC Human Rights Code are protected.”
Simpson believes pro-SOGI rally-goers are working to silence anyone who speaks in opposition to SOGI. “And that’s not Canadian, that’s not what it is to be in a free and democratic society.”
Both rallies are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article referred to activity at previous rallies that may not have occurred.