Last week, two incumbent school trustees and two hopefuls aiming for a seat on School District 58’s Board of Education addressed Indigenous education in BC. Along with four mayoral and eighteen council candidates, they form one of the largest pools of candidates the municipality has ever seen. With voters facing a wide variety of choices, the Herald looks to engage candidates and showcase their responses to the community’s question.
This week, the candidates for School Trustee were sent a question regarding SOGI programming in B.C. Their responses, in random order:
This week’s question: Do you support SD58’s use of SOGI 123? Why is the inclusion of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) programming in K-12 education imporant?
“Yes, I support SD58 and the rest of the province’s use of SOGI 123. SOGI 123 is a way for educators across the province to connect with each other and share resources on the topic of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. These resources allow for educators to align their lesson plans with provincial policies.
I know that there has been some hesitation from some in our community about the use of SOGI 123, so I have taken some time recently to read through some of these resources and try to understand why they might be important. To me, at the heart of SOGI 123 is the strive for schools to be inclusive. Creating an environment where every student feels safe and welcome will lead to our students becoming more successful in school, and as members of our community.
Unfortunately, schools have not always been a safe place for 2SLGBTQ+ youth and I believe that SOGI 123 is an important resource that can help work towards changing that.”
Gordon Swan (incumbent):
“I have spoken in support of SOGI as President of BCSTA.
Studies show that having SOGI-specific anti-bullying policies improves the school climate for LGBTQ and heterosexual students, reducing discrimination, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts for all students.
The SOGI program itself is mandated by the Ministry and teachers are supported with teaching materials.
The Human Rights Code includes “gender identity or expression” among the protected grounds covered by the Code. As Trustees our oath requires us to uphold the laws of the province. This includes:
- Protection in employment
- Mental or physical disability
- Protections for people with disabilities who require a guide or service dog
- Racial discrimination
- Age discrimination
- Sexual orientation
- Sex discrimination and sexual harassment
- Gender identity or expression
I also support our Charter Right of Freedoms. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
- freedom of conscience and religion.
- freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.
- freedom of peaceful assembly; and
- freedom of association.