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AutismBC director draws fire for reported appearance at anti-SOGI event

The controversy comes after Laurie Guerra, along with another newly elected Surrey city councillor, reportedly secretly attended an anti-SOGI meeting. Grace Ke reports.

The mother of a 13-year-old boy with autism has started a petition calling for the resignation of one of AutismBC’s directors.

Mirella Russell is calling for Laurie Guerra, who is also a Surrey city councillor, to step down from her position with the organization.

READ MORE: ‘No room for discrimination’ says Education Minister, school groups, amid dueling SOGI protests

It comes after it was reported that newly-elected Surrey councillors Laurie Guerra and Steven Pettigrew both spoke at a post-election party attended by anti-SOGI 123 groups.

SOGI 123 is a resource package designed to help teachers and school administrators reduce discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in their curriculum.

“My first reaction was hurt,” said Russell.

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“My heart hurt because as a parent of a child who has special needs, who I always fight for his inclusion, I felt that the organization that represents kids on the spectrum all of a sudden had a representative who spoke of hatred, and to me that felt like a betrayal.”

In an emailed statement, Guerra referred questions on the matter to AutismBC.

“At this time I am extremely busy doing the work the residents of Surrey elected me to do,” she wrote. “AutismBC has put out a formal statement in response to the matter.”

However, Guerra also appeared to address the controversy on her Facebook page, writing, “After only three days in office I finally get what the term ‘fake news’ means.”

WATCH: Thousands of B.C. children waiting for autism assessment

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The president of AutismBC has also responded, releasing a written statement.

READ MORE: Vancouver 1st school board candidate breaks with party over SOGI video

“The views and opinions made by directors and staff of AutismBC do not necessarily reflect the views of AutismBC,” wrote president Gary Robins.

Guerra has a son who lives with autism and her biography states she’s been an active board director with AutismBC for more than 13 years.

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