NEWS 1130 (CHILLIWACK) — A clash of groups for and against LGBTQ curriculum is playing out in the Valley.
A rally calling for the end to the British Columbia’s mandated sexual orientation and gender identity educational materials was held in Chilliwack Tuesday night.
It was put on by Culture Guard, a social conservative website and group that bills itself as a promoter of natural family rights.
It’s estimated more than 300 people attended.
Those speaking against SOGI 123 at the rally called it a radical agenda targeting family rights and the innocence of children.
Kari Simpson with Culture Guard spoke at the rally and referred to SOGI 123 as a way to indoctrinate kids into sexually deviant lives.
Rally speakers also called supporters of SOGI a “hedonistic cult.”
Last month, Chilliwack School District trustee Barry Neufeld made comments on Facebook against the curriculum calling it a “weapon of propaganda,” and claimed it was “child abuse” to allow little children to choose their gender.
He later apologized in a news release, “to those who felt hurt by [his] opinion.”
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation called for Neufeld to step down but he was not fired.
At the Tuesday rally, Neufeld indicated he would run again for the position of Trustee in 2018.
Earlier that evening, a rally for inclusivity was held in Abbotsford.
About 50 people gathered at Colleen and Gordie Howe Middle School to support LGBTQ education and teaching supports in BC Schools.
Stacey Wakelin, a member of the group BC Parents for Inclusivity and a supporter of SOGI, says there is a lot of misinformation about the curriculum that actually focuses on anti-bullying and inclusivity.
“I think a lot of information is being shared on social media through websites like the Culture Guard and there’s a lot of misinformation so I think what we’re seeing is a lot of fear-mongering,” she says.
“It’s sad. I think a lot of people are led down the path of, ‘we should be afraid of SOGI,’ and I think that comes essentially from being not educated on the matter.”
Wakelin is encouraging parents to take a look at the curriculum support materials themselves first before jumping to any conclusions.
“This is also a human issue. Just because a person doesn’t have a connection to the LGBTQ community, I think we need to all look at this as an important topic of conversation. It shouldn’t be this sensationalized. Our group has always been about support and education. I feel like we’re missing a very big piece of the education puzzle here.”