Some West Shore residents have reported finding anti-SOGI 123 flyers in their mailboxes.
SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) 123 is a guide accepted in B.C. school districts to help educators build inclusive environments for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
The flyer says SOGI 123 is “altering the culture of the school environment” encouraging students to “accept the non-scientific idea that ‘gender is fluid.’” It says the SOGI 123 resources are “designed to cause children to question their own sexual identity and undermine traditional family values.”
Chelsea Walton lives in Langford and has a seven-year-old daughter at Savory Elementary.
She said seeing the flyer in the mail was “very upsetting.” She said she came home after picking her daughter up from school and her husband told her they got something in the mail that would make her very angry.
“It was just very disappointing,” Walton said. “I was disappointed to see something like that in my community.”
Walton said she wants schools to be safe for all kids and recognizes that LGBTQ+ children are particularly vulnerable. She said she thinks it’s “awesome” that the school districts have adopted a policy that is explicitly inclusive.
Walton and her husband teach their daughter about gender expression and inclusivity at home, she said.
“I think kids are so innately accepting, she is surprised that anybody would be opposed to letting people be who they are,” Walton said about her daughter.
SD62 trustee Ravi Parmar said the flyers are “garbage.”
“Public schools are supposed to be a safe space for everyone…we as a district and public institution don’t discriminate,” Parmar said. “All we’re advocating for is a school environment that is free of harassment and discrimination…we want all students, staff and families to feel welcome in our schools and treated with respect and dignity.”
Parmar said a lot of misinformation is spread by the anti-SOGI groups but he said as a trustee, he has never received a complaint about SOGI 123.
He also noted that sexuality as a concept is not discussed in classrooms until grade four. It does not include discussions about sexual acts or practices. For younger grades, he said an example of something students might see is a book that is reflective of today’s society featuring a family with two moms or two dads.
“There’s absolutely nothing inappropriate being taught,” Parmar said. “We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in our schools and in order to do that it’s important for us to learn about each other and celebrate our differences.”
Parmar said if parents or members of the community have any concerns, the best place to start is to talk to their child’s teacher. He said they can also contact the school board office.
The producers and distributors of the flyers are still unknown. A signature reading “from concerned parents & grandparents” is at the bottom of the flyer.