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Duelling rallies outside the BCTF office over SOGI program taught in schools

Last Updated Apr 23, 2018 at 3:43 pm PST

FILE - Rallies for and against SOGI 1 2 3 at BC schools took place on April 23, 2018 outside the BCTF office in Vancouver. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Duelling demonstrations brought hundreds of people to the sidewalk outside the BC Teachers Federation Office in Vancouver Monday, to show support and opposition for a new gender-inclusive curriculum being taught in schools.

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities (SOGI) 123 program aims to teach kids about sexual and gender diversity within the sexual education curriculum and beyond.

In near equal-sized rallies, demonstrators for the program waved rainbow flags and clutched homemade signs reading “love wins” and “education is not indoctrination” while across the road, their counterparts held several handmade and printed signs reading “don’t mess with our children” and “parents have rights.”

“The children belong to their parents, not to the unions and not to a political agenda, and this is a political agenda,” organizer and Christian-based group Culture Guard executive Kari Simpson said.

Simpson said the protest against SOGI was organized to show support for similar events in the United States and Australia and the BCTF’s Human Rights complaint against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld for alleged homophobic and transphobic comments.

Among those who support the program, 17-year-old Burnaby North Secondary School student Madison who heads up her school’s Gay Straight Alliance.

“Because of SOGI, because we have GSAs in our school, I’m happy now,” she said, describing bullying at another school which prompted her to transfer. “And I feel like I owe a lot of that to the programs, to the laws that were implemented because of SOGI.”

While some opposing protestors mingled and exchanged words and arguments, the demonstrations remained relatively segregated and peaceful.

Similar rallies were also held at the BC Legislature in Victoria.