Helping kids figure out their path in life is a daunting task, but it’s one we entrust to B.C.’s teachers every day of the school calendar.
In the coming year, we can expect that job to be more difficult, as there will likely be a renewed focus on the SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) materials that teachers have been drawing on for the past several years.
Although there was some furor and protests when the materials first debuted, that had largely calmed down over the past couple of years. The materials are intended primarily to help students at an age-appropriate level, and among their main goals are reducing suicides, self harm, and bullying.
Making LGBTQ kids feel safe and a part of their schools is a key element in the materials.
A recent statement released by the B.C. government hones in on that particular point.
“No student should be excluded or bullied because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” said a statement jointly released by B.C. Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside, along with a host of education groups, representing teachers, administrators, unionized staff, parents, and Indigenous organizations in B.C.
“There is no room for any type of discrimination in our schools. As provincial education partners, we stand together in this commitment,” the statement adds.
The letter is no doubt sparked by a growing anti-LGBTQ backlash in the United States. Fuelled by American culture wars, it will wind up arriving in Canada as well.
With school board elections coming up in less than a month, we can expect wild and inaccurate claims about SOGI’s aims.
But we should keep in mind the core principle at stake – that every child has a right to feel safe when they go to school.