Inclusivity and safety focused 2SLGBTQIA+ community advocates in Kelowna are speaking out ahead of the 1 Million March For Children, that is scheduled to take place across the country on Sept. 20.
According to the organization’s website, the march is intended to encourage government and school boards to “[eliminate] the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.”
Six years ago, SOGI 123 was implemented across B.C. as a set of resources that could be used by teachers, families and students to help educate on 2SLGBTQIA+ and the issues the queer community faces.
Overall, the resource has been well received and adopted by school districts, said Clint Johnston, president of the B.C. Teachers Federation.
All people, including heterosexual and cis-gendered folks have a sexual orientation and gender identity and use pronouns like he, she and they. SOGI 123 education is designed to help educators, parents and students feel more comfortable with their own, and other’s unique identity.
Queer advocates in Kelowna are calling on public officials to speak out and denounce the messaging being promoted by the March for Children event organizers.
“The 1 Million March For Children raises serious concerns due to the dissemination of misleading information and false narratives about public education. Despite its ‘save the children’ slogan, this event will expose 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, a minority student group, to increased risks of harm and bullying,” said Wilbur Turner, founder and chair of Advocacy Canada.
“We call on public officials to denounce the hateful rhetoric being promoted through these type of events. All members of the community deserve to be afforded respect and dignity, without fear of discrimination because of their identity.”
Carrie Broughton – the founder of Trans Parent Okanagan, a non-profit organization developed by and for parents and caregivers of trans, gender diverse, and two-spirit people – said that “far-right conspiracy groups who spread dangerous lies about 2SLGBTQ+ people” are the organizers of the event.
“The consequences of remaining silent in the face of hatred are great,” said Broughton.
“TransParent Okanagan calls on all levels of government to denounce the march and its message of exclusion and hate and reiterate their support for inclusive policies in schools.”
People working in schools have seen the value of SOGI 123 education in classrooms.
“I know firsthand how important it is to elevate young people and not strive to eliminate their freedom of expression, especially with trans and queer youth,” said Tyson Cook, a queer man who works in education in addition to being a drag performer who goes by the stage name Freida Whales.
“This is an event that forces people like myself into hiding and denies the existence of the trans and queer community.”
There is also a nationwide school walkout planned on Wednesday.