SURREY — A group called Parents United Canada says it is filing an “urgent” human rights complaint after it was told it could not rent the Bell Performing Arts Centre for a rally next month to inform parents about efforts to stop a curriculum program called SOGI 123.
The contentious program, according to sogieducation.org, “equips educators of all backgrounds and experiences with tools and resources for supporting marginalized LGBTQ students and for creating safer and more inclusive school environments for all students.”
“There will be a human rights complaint filed today, it’s ready to go,” Kari Simpson, president of a group called Culture Guard, told the Now-Leader Monday morning. “There will also be a letter from our lawyers going to the school district saying do you want to go down this road.
“We also have enough inside information from what’s going on inside the school district to know this is a political situation where they are targeting our group.”
Simpson said her group is asking the tribunal to “deal with this immediately, on an urgent basis,” based on Section 8 of the BC Human Rights Code.
“They can’t deny a service to somebody based on political, religious reasons.”
So what’s all the fuss about?
Simpson says teachers are being told to not to refer to boys as boys and girls as girls “because they can be anything they want and everything in between.”
She called it an abuse of the public education system, and a “political program, brainwashing students” from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
“They circumvented parental notification.”
Simpson said her group was expecting an overflow crowd at the Bell Centre for the Nov. 22nd rally.
That was, until Friday.
“The Surrey school board has denied our rental of the Bell Centre, and they just informed us today (Friday), saying that it doesn’t fit with their policies,” Simpson told the Now-Leader last week.
“My understanding is it was the superintendent himself that was responsible for conveying the message to the manager of the Bell Centre.
“We also have it in writing that this is the case but there’s no specifics as to exactly what policy we are contravening so my lawyers are putting together a letter right now. You cannot discriminate against a group just because you don’t agree with them, whether it be politically, or ideologically or anything else, and deny them a service. The BC Human Rights Code prohibits that kind of descriminatory practice.”
Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan said Friday the district has a policy that it can deny use of a facility if there are “reasonable grounds to believe” it could lead to a “protest,” adding there’s indication that that could happen.
Strachan said the district’s concern is about liability for potential damage.
The Now-Leader obtained a letter from Simpson to her organization, from Steven Goodman, manager of the Bell Performing Arts Centre, that reads: “Thank you for your interest in booking the Bell Performing Arts Centre for your meeting. As explained on the phone, the Executive Committee of the Surrey School District has determined that this event does not align with the policies of the Surrey School District. Your rental request has been denied on this basis.”
Simpson said the organization is looking for a venue that can accommodate up to 15,000 people for a rally. She said her group is planning to file a request for an injunction “probably within the next two weeks” aiming to stop SOGI 123.
“It’s political suicide to piss off the parents,” Simpson said. “I have never seen anything like this,” she said, speaking about opposition to the school program.
“I think it’s the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back.”