To the editor:
The Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists Association has become concerned with the misinformation being spread regarding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policies and education in BC schools.
It is well documented that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students often face discrimination. Schools must comply with provincial human rights legislation regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that schools need to address discrimination against LGBT students.
The SOGI 123 system addresses discrimination through lessons, classroom activities, policies, and codes of conduct. It provides tools and resources for educators. SOGI 123 lessons inform students that a diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities exist in the world. Students learn about respecting others’ rights, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Educating students about reality, and reducing discrimination against LGBT students are desirable goals. However, a vocal minority has objected to these efforts.
Some have expressed concern that SOGI 123 interferes with parental rights. Yet there is nothing in SOGI 123 that prevents parents from imparting their values to their children. They can impart their values at home and through community activities and organizations.
Some parents don’t want their children to know that a diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities exist. These parents object to the facts, so they prefer children to remain ignorant.
Some parents have embarked on a campaign of misinformation and inflamed rhetoric accusing the ministry and teachers of trying to impose a political agenda on students. They have even claimed that the SOGI 123 indoctrinates children into homosexuality and transgenderism!
Whenever society tries to extend full human rights to a new group of people, there are always those who fear “social upheaval”. Public policy should not be driven by fear and ignorance but by a calm assessment of the evidence. SOGI education is based on evidence.
KASHA supports the efforts of school districts to educate youth on SOGI issues and create a non-discriminatory educational environment. We call on opponents to drop the inflammatory and dishonest rhetoric and work with the ministry to protect the educational environment for all students.
David Robinson, Zena Ryder, Nina George, Daniel Mallett, Ellen Nilson, Darrel Lewis
Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists Association Board