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‘Bullying’: B.C. leaders back inclusive education material as anti-2SLTBQIA+ rallies planned

Click to play video: 'Dueling protests over SOGI curriculum expected for Wednesday'
Dueling protests over SOGI curriculum expected for Wednesday
Global's Keith Baldrey previews some dueling protests expected for Wednesday, as anti-SOGI marches will be met by counter-protesters – Sep 19, 2023

British Columbia’s premier, Official Opposition and human rights commissioner are all backing inclusive education programs as anti-2SLGBTQIA+ marches are planned in the province and across Canada.

Posters created by a group called “1MillionMarch4Children” say participants are “standing together against gender ideology in schools” — a reference to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity programs being taught in B.C.’s public schools.

The BC Teachers’ Federation, which represents some 50,000 teachers across the province, has panned the planned protests for using parental consent as a “dog whistle for rising homophobia and transphobia.” In a Sept. 8 letter to the province’s major party leaders, the union urged them to counter those “harmful narratives” publicly.

Click to play video: 'New elector organization is running candidates for school board in eight B.C. ridings and critics are concerned'
New elector organization is running candidates for school board in eight B.C. ridings and critics are concerned

Premier David Eby responded Tuesday, denouncing threats, hate and violence against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community “without hesitation.”

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“We cannot and must not stand idly by in the face of any kind of bullying,” he wrote in a letter to BCTF president Clint Johnston.

“Our education system and school resources are designed to ensure all student have the best opportunity to thrive, to learn, to grow in safety without threat of intimidation or discrimination.”

Click to play video: 'Pink Shirt Day: celebrating inclusion and diversity through SOGI 1 2 3'
Pink Shirt Day: celebrating inclusion and diversity through SOGI 1 2 3

All 60 of the province’s school districts and the Federation of Independent School Associations are part of a SOGI Collaborative. The curriculum was introduced to B.C. schools in 2016 under the BC Liberal government of the day.

Elenore Sturko, BC United’s shadow minister for education, also penned a letter to the BCTF on Tuesday, stating that the party’s name may have changed, but its support for inclusive schools has not.

“No one should ever face hatred or discrimination within our schools,” Sturko said.

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Click to play video: 'Councillor Rebecca Bligh resigns from NPA over anti-SOGI controversy'
Councillor Rebecca Bligh resigns from NPA over anti-SOGI controversy

The human rights commissioner, meanwhile, says she is disturbed about the “hate-fuelled marches” planned in several communities around the province and across Canada on Wednesday.

The statement from Kasari Govender says peaceful demonstration protects democracy and generates debate, but the human rights of the trans and LGBTQ community “is not up for debate.”

She says an inquiry by her office showed almost two-thirds of LGBTQ students don’t feel safe at school, compared with 11 per cent of heterosexual students, and attempts to erase them from school curriculums are hateful.

Click to play video: 'SOGI presents as civic election issue despite being a provincial matter'
SOGI presents as civic election issue despite being a provincial matter

 

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Govender says in a statement that those who want to “protect” their children by removing school-based supports for gay, bisexual, trans and other students are misinformed.

“As a parent, I plead with those who may think they are protecting their children: Erasing LGBTQ2SAI+ people from our curriculum will not change your child’s identity, but it will make schools, and the LGBTQ2SAI+ people in them, less safe,” she says in her statement.

Trans people have become the focus of a “surge of disinformation, conspiracy theories and hate,” says Govender.

“This is not only about hate on the basis of gender identity; these rallies are an affront to human dignity, expression and rights for all of us,” she says.

A letter from Govender to Premier David Eby, urges him to release details about the effectiveness of 12 recommendations Govender’s office submitted to the province in March.

The recommendations flowed from a public inquiry that examined reports of hate in B.C. Those recommendations provide a “road map of how to take tangible and transformative action against hate,” says Govender.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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