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Connaught Street becomes flashpoint of SOGI curriculum protest in Vanderhoof

Differing views on SOGI curriculum saw demonstrations outside District of Vanderhoof and School District offices

Protesters of the sexual orientation and gender identities (SOGI 123) discourse in schools took to the streets in Vanderhoof today (Sept. 20).

The anti- SOGI group assembled outside the District of Vanderhoof and Nechako Lakes School District 91 offices on Connaught Street. Their appearance was just one of many across the country assembled under the “1 Million March 4 Children” grouping. The group was advocating for the removal of the SOGI curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.

Members of the Good Neighbours Committee also participated in a counter-protest in support of LGBTQ2SIA+ youth and SOGI-inclusive education at the venue. GNC also held a debriefing session for those in need of counselling services later during the day.

The nation-wide protests argued that this curriculum used in schools across the province since 2016, subject children to disturbing and vulgar content. Meanwhile counter-protesters say the anti-SOGI group are fuelled by ” fear, disinformation and conspiracy theories.”

School District 91’s Board Chair Dave Christie has called the protests “disturbing.”

The recent promotion of hate within the District is deeply disturbing and puts the safety and well-being of our students at risk,” Christie said in a statement.

“Our collective priority must be on the promotion of positive and respectful relationships with one another to ensure each learner can reach their full potential.”

The school board also said it is committed to its current systems which are in place to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive schools and worksites for students and staff.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are protected grounds under the BC Human Rights Code and each member of the LGBTQ2S+ community is a valuable part of the school system.

Northwestern B.C. political representatives also weighed in on both sides of the SOGI debate.

“It’s deeply troubling to see the rise of anti-trans hate across Canada. I want LGBTQ+ youth in our region to know I’ve got their backs, and that we’ll keep working to ensure they’re safe and their rights are respected,” said NDP Skeena–Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach.

B.C. Conservative Party Leader John Rustad, who is also the MLA for the Nechako Lakes riding, said he would eliminate the current SOGI curriculum, calling it a distraction and divisive.

“Kids must be taught how to think — not what to think. We must allow parents and families to raise their own children how they see fit,” he said.

The “1 Million March 4 Children” listed close to 30 protest locations in B.C.

Aside from Vanderhoof in northwestern B.C., there was an anti-SOGI rally in Prince Rupert and one in Terrace.

- With files from Rod Link