During the spring, opponents of SOGI resources in public school classrooms were holding placards asking that the programs be stopped.
At the first meeting of the school year, they took a different tack.
SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) 123 refers to a set of Ministry of Education resources aimed at making school environments safer, more inclusive environments, especially for LGBTQ+ people.
Chris McCay, also known as Christian Michael, has been among the most outspoken of those questioning SOGI and told the school trustees he had seen rainbow stickers in the windows of a local school.
School district staff later confirmed the stickers are not directly a SOGI resource. A B.C. Teachers’ Federation spokesperson told the Mirror the teachers’ union sends them at no cost to members who want them, adding they have become popular since SOGI was brought into schools.
Board chair Susan Wilson told McCay, as she has on previous occasions, that the board has made its decision to include SOGI 123 resources in the Campbell River School District and that the trustees would not be discussing the item further.
“It won’t be about SOGI,” he responded.
He said when he learned the stickers were to promote schools as a safe and inclusive environment, he thought it was a great idea.
“I thought everyone should be welcomed and inclusive,” he said.
McCay is concerned with special needs children and has worked with many. He cited a TV news report about special needs students being “targets of frustration from the teachers” and that they are twice as likely to be the subject of teacher misconduct.
He added that many First Nations students also find themselves targets.
As well, he cited. as an example of further bullying, a women reading from the Bible at a board meeting earlier in the year. Apparently a person in the gallery, he said, could be overheard making a threatening remark about the woman to someone else.
“I know ourselves, we felt bullied,” he said. “It wasn’t being a very inclusive environment…. If this is how adults are being treated, I’m really concerned for the children…. There are many Christian families and non-Christian families that do not believe gender is fluid and should be taught to the children.”
He did not cite any specific cases of students bullied due to their religious beliefs.
McCay asked if the board would consider allowing other stickers in classrooms as many students including special needs, First Nations and Christian students might feel they are being bullied.
“I think it would be really important for them to have stickers also,” he said.
At the end of the meeting, he asked if the board will consider putting stickers for other students in schools across the district.
“We can’t answer it because we didn’t have time to consider it,” Wilson responded, adding it would be an operational matter and the district could get back to him about the subject.
Another man asked later what would happen with McCay’s request.
“It is possible for any member of the public to come and make a presentation to us,” Wilson said. “The board may or may not consider it a priority. Everybody has different wishes.”
There were 16 people in the gallery at the Sept. 4 meeting, and while many seemed to be there over the SOGI question, there was no indication how many, though during questions at the end of the meeting, one woman asked whether an agenda item about board-authorized courses has anything to do with SOGI and was told they do not.
Opponents of SOGI have been at board meetings through much of 2018 and in late April organized a public meeting.