A group of protesters opposed to SOGI, the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity resource B.C. school districts are using to promote inclusion in classrooms, were outnumbered by LGBTQ advocates on the lawn of the B.C. legislature Monday.
Led by Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, a parent from Vancouver who has been vocal about her opposition to SOGI, the group travelled to Victoria to urge the government to ban SOGI from B.C. schools.
“If you watch the SOGI videos, it’s disturbing and it’s upsetting,” Thompson said. “That’s what’s being taught in our schools, that every child can be gender fluid. We believe that the gender fluid ideology is something that shouldn’t be taught to our kids.”
Thompson recognized some children struggle with gender dysphoria – a condition where one’s emotional or psychological identity as male or female is opposite to one’s biological sex – saying there should be “parental, and community support to love that child.”
Every child is created by God, male and female, she said, adding she herself wasn’t opposed to people who identify as LGBTQ, but that she doesn’t feel children should be able to choose their own gender.
“It’s important that children are taught that they’re significant and that they’re important just the way that they are,” Thompson said.
“Do not tell my child who is not gender dysphoric that they can be gender fluid,” she added. “That is not okay.”
Victoria teacher Kelli Kraft felt it was important to attend the counter-protest both as a queer-identified person and as an educator with LGBTQ students.
Carrying a sign that read, “Get your SOGI facts straight with this gay teacher,” Kraft welcomed dialogue with the protesters who she said were “incredibly misinformed about what this is.”
“I think a lot of people are coming from outside Victoria and they don’t actually know what the SOGI 123 policy is,” she said. “I heard that people thought we were talking about masturbation in elementary school and that’s not a conversation that we have.”
SOGI allows us to talk about how gender impacts our privileges in life, said Kraft, who considers SOGI a resource for teachers to talk about these subjects in age-appropriate ways.
Under sunny skies, the protest quickly turned into a dance party across the legislature lawn where LGBTQ advocates shared the space, inviting SOGI protesters to join in the fun.
Jenn Smith, a trans-identified man who came from Abbotsford to protest, said he felt the music drowned out his right to freedom of speech, and that he wasn’t able to deliver his message.
“The government has overstepped its bounds, they’re interfering with parental rights,” he said. “In my opinion, they’re brainwashing these kids.”
Tammy Brooks and her daughter Asha Khan felt it was important to show support for SOGI, as a queer family in Victoria.
“My daughter identifies as queer and has for a long time and I’m a queer mom,” Brooks said. “I think that it’s really harmful to kids to not have their sexual and gender identities acknowledged in the school system. It contributes to a culture of silence, and silence is violence.”
For nine-year-old Khan, it was simple: “I identify as queer because I want to be able to like whoever I like.”