A group of Langley parents is organizing in support of a policy intended to make LGBTQ students feel safe and welcomed at the community’s public school.
The drive comes in response to a recent push to remove a “sexual orientation and gender identity” initiative from the curriculum.
The SOGI 123 curriculum was developed for B.C. teachers by a collaboration between the Ministry of Education, BC Teachers’ Federation, UBC Faculty of Education, and multiple LGBTQ organizations.
It is intended to work with school districts and parents to support LGBTQ students and change attitudes and policies to create “safer and more inclusive school environments for all students.”
“I don’t even really see this as a debate,” said parent Martina Boyd, who believes the majority of parents in Langley aren’t interested in debating the program.
“Our purpose is to create an environment and a culture that is supportive of LGBTQ youth and families and all youth that face intolerance and discrimination.”
Boyd is a part of Langley Parents for Inclusivity, a group started by Stacey Wakelin, who says the anti-LGBT messages — however small — can cause great harm.
“I don’t care if there’s 10 people and a very large voice box out there,” she said. “This is something those kids are hearing.”
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Wakelin says she has heard from Langley parents of LGBTQ youth, who are at a higher risk of suicide than their peers.
The group is planning a rally to start before the upcoming Sept. 26 school board meeting to show they want the district to be as welcoming and inclusive as possible.
“We want to show that there is this support within the school system, and we want to show support for our district for implementing what is already within the curriculum,” Boyd said.
Opposition to the SOGI initiative has come from parents and groups who have long opposed LGBTQ-education and supports in the school system, and who held a town hall opposing the program late last month.
Opponents have become more vocal since March, when the school district issued a letter in support of the initiative within the new curriculum, and have recently formed a new group, Parents United Canada, which argues SOGI is a “political cult” which amounts to the “abuse of children.”
In the past, some of the same opponents have fought against the Vancouver School Board’s LGBTQ-policy and books featuring diverse families at the Surrey School District.