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Protests clash over sexual orientation and gender identity school program in Kelowna

Click to play video: 'Protestors for and against SOGI 123 rally in Kelowna'
Protestors for and against SOGI 123 rally in Kelowna
Protestors for and against SOGI 123 rally in Kelowna – Oct 21, 2023

SOGI 123 was the centre of conflict once again in Kelowna on Saturday as several hundred people on both sides of the debate rallied.

The One Million March 4 Children was one of many across Canada on Saturday with large groups of people protesting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in schools (SOGI), and in Kelowna, it was interrupted by counter-protestors who support the resource program.

However, those participating in the march believe SOGI does not belong in the classroom.

“That’s not the school’s job to be teaching them, we went to school, you got taught biology and genetics and that’s what they should restrict themselves to, anything else that the duty of the parents,” said David Lindsay, who is against SOGI.

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“The government and schools should not have injected themselves into the school system by teaching kids about all the gender identities and other crap that’s out there.”

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According to the Sogi website, it’s not its own curriculum, but one aspect of diversity that is embedded across a range of grades and subject areas. Its goal is to help students understand diversity in society.

“It’s long overdue. For too long children who don’t fit the binary categories have been excluded, marginalized, and hurt, and it’s very important to have an initiative in schools that makes them know that they’re welcome,” said David Jefferess, who is pro-SOGI.

Some say parents should have more control over what children are exposed to in school.

“Nobody cares for children more than their parents, not the schools and not the school boards and not the trustees they are third parties. Children belong to their parents until they are adults,” said Steve Friedman, against SOGI.

The SOGI program is not new, it was implemented in BC Schools in 2016, however, it’s back in the spotlight, with this protest being the third in Kelowna in just under a month.

“Not everyone has great parents and that’s just a sad fact of life, there should be people your kids can talk to. I think it’s nice for parents to not have to handle the load alone that can be a heavy conversation to have with your kids,” said Eva Illion, pro-SOGI.

“I think it is good to have people trained in these conversations.”

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