School Board Candidates Address Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Programs

Last week, two outgoing school trustees and two candidates for a school board seat from School District 58 spoke to Indigenous education in British Columbia. With four mayoral candidates and eighteen council candidates, they form one of the largest candidate pools the municipality has ever seen. With voters faced with a wide variety of choices, the Herald seeks to engage the candidates and showcase their responses to the community’s question.

This week, school trustee candidates received a question regarding SOGI programming in British Columbia. Their answers, in random order:

This week’s question: do you support the use of SOGI 123 by SD58? Why is the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) curricula in K-12 education important?

Justin Jepsen:

“Yes, I support SD58 and the rest of the province’s use of SOGI 123. SOGI 123 is a way for educators across the province to connect with each other and share resources on the topic of sexual orientation and gender identity. These resources allow educators to align their lesson plans with provincial policies.

I know some in our community have been hesitant to use SOGI 123, so I recently took the time to read some of these resources and try to understand why they might be important. For me, at the heart of SOGI 123 is the effort to make schools inclusive. Creating an environment where every student feels safe and welcome will allow our students to do better in school and as members of our community.

Unfortunately, schools have not always been a safe place for 2SLGBTQ+ youth and I believe SOGI 123 is an important resource that can help change that.

Gordon Swan (incumbent):

“I spoke in favor of SOGI as president of BCSTA.

Studies show that having SOGI-specific anti-bullying policies improves the school climate for LGBTQ and heterosexual students, reduce discrimination, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts for all students.

The SOGI program itself is mandated by the ministry and teachers are supported by teaching materials.

The Human Rights Code includes “gender identity or expression” among the protected grounds covered by the Code. As administrators, our oath obliges us to respect the laws of the province. This understand :

I also support our Charter of Freedoms. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  • freedom of conscience and religion.
  • freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other means of communication.
  • freedom of peaceful assembly; and
  • freedom of association.

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