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Anti-SOGI activists target Campbell River schools

District sends letter to parents after group hands out info on school property
People against and for SOGI filled the school district office at the most recent board meeting. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

School District No. 72 has sent out a letter to parents after anti-SOGI activists handed out leaflets on two school properties this week.

On May 16, Superintendent Tom Longridge wrote a letter for parents and guardians to clarify the situation at two elementary schools on Monday and Tuesday.

His letter notes that the materials were given out primarily to parents. However, the district said it has also received information that in some instances these activists directly approached students and handed them leaflets.

Activists at Penfield Elementary were said to be directly on school property and were asked to leave. Also at Penfield along with Georgia Park Elementary, the individuals were reported to be impeding traffic.

“Given that this group has taken this approach for the last two days, I felt it important to alert you that you may encounter similar disturbances at and around your child’s school,” Longridge wrote.

School District No. 72 has also alerted the RCMP and all school principals about the possibility of similar occurrences at other schools.

Longridge notes the individuals distributing the material are neither employees of the school district nor parents of children in district schools. He also points out that schools are private property with public access and that anyone on school grounds must have a connection to the school or a legitimate reason for being on site.

“We are also extremely concerned about unknown adults directly approaching children given the caution we teach children to have regarding strangers,” he wrote.

One of the anti-SOGI activists, Chris McCay, also known as Christian Michael, contacted The Mirror in response to the school district letter. He said one of the volunteers was a parent of a school district student, adding the group was not approaching children or handing out information to students.

“If we were, I would like to think the police or other parents would have held us accountable right there as it was open in a public space,” he said in an email to the newspaper.

He continued to state there is a large group of parents and community members concerned about the SOGI resources. The group, he added, would like to hold a public meeting, which would include school district representatives, to make the content of the SOGI resources transparent.

The attempt to hand out anti-SOGI material follows the school board’s decision on May 8 to support the province’s SOGI 123 initiatives, which are aimed at making school environments safe and welcoming, especially for LGBTQ+ people. Opponents had attended recent school board meeting to express their view that SOGI is not about anti-bullying or providing safe environments but focuses instead on questions of sexuality that should be handled by families.

“While the school district respects the democratic rights of those who disagree with this decision to express their views, they must respect trespassing laws, the rights of children to not be approached by adults that they do not know, and the rights of other parents and families to have their own beliefs as well,” Longridge wrote.

The superintendent ends by encouraging parents or guardians with questions or concerns to contact the child’s teacher or principal.