VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Hundreds of people in support of SOGI 123 counter-protested in Victoria, in response to a rally against the resource at the B.C. legislature on Saturday.
Protesters with the Canadian Council for Faith and Family call the educational initiative — which aims to teach students about sexual identity and gender orientation — “dangerous”, and say they have not been heard by the government, or the press.
In a press release, Jenn Smith, organizer with the religious group, says the anti-SOGI protest was not about “hatred,” but that she and her cohort were not included in the creation of the program, calling it an anti-democratic process.
“[I am] hoping a general but peaceful uprising of Christians, true feminists, and others who still stubbornly cling to truth and reality, might be able to collectively influence our government to stop teaching dangerous ideologies in our schools and trampling basic rights and freedoms in the process,” Smith writes in the release.
Kelli Leanne, organizer for the pro-SOGI rally, is a teacher herself and says it’s important to stand up for vulnerable LGBTQ students.
“We want to show our students and our parents here that we do have a lot of support and that we are looking out for our students and our students’ best interest,” Leanne tells NEWS 1130.
“So to have a group like that come up and have no push-back about their message, I think that would be detrimental to a lot of our LGBTQ students.”
Leanna says the policy is meant to uplift and promote the acceptance of LGBTQ students, adding she wishes it was implemented sooner in B.C.
WATCH: Pro-SOGI rally in Coquitlam
B.C.’s Ministry of Education says it stands to its commitment to SOGI, adding that all 60 of the province’s school districts have updated their codes of conduct and harassment and bullying policies with respect to gender discrimination.
“All of B.C.’s provincial education partners for K-12 schools are committed to ensuring every school — both public and independent — is a place where students feel safe, accepted, respected and welcome regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background,” says a press release Saturday morning.
Members of the BC Teachers Federation as well as parents and students took part in the counter rally.