I am writing in response to the recent letter written by MLA Laurie Throness in which he calls transgender identity into question and comes out in opposition to SOGI 123. He believes that he speaks for the majority of his constituents, but as one of those constituents, I can tell you that he absolutely does not speak for me.
Mr. Throness refers to the recent “rather punishing debate about SOGI.” The fact is that there should never have been a debate about SOGI at all. This is a bipartisan policy started by the previous BC Liberal government and confirmed by the current NDP government in order to bring B.C. schools in line with the B.C. Human Rights Code and make schools safer for queer students. The only reason a debate occurred is that Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld wrote a Facebook post in which he called the parents of trans kids child abusers and the supporters of SOGI cultural nihilists and said that he would prefer the LGBTQ community in Canada to be treated the way they are in Russia. Mr. Neufeld and Mr. Throness can try to spin this as just Barry Neufeld exercising free speech and stating his opinion, but I will call it what it is: hate speech.
It is Mr. Throness’s belief that by using less fiery rhetoric he is not displaying hatred. He is wrong. He cannot truly “serve the transgendered [sic] in our community with compassion and respect” if he simultaneously promotes the idea that supporting trans people in their transition is akin to uprooting a plant and denying biology. He cannot be loving and kind while simultaneously promoting the idea that telling kids that trans people exist will cause them to wrongly change their gender and lead to mental illness. I am tired of people like Barry Neufeld and Laurie Throness using the idea of religious freedom to justify their bigotry. Their religious freedom gives them the right to worship how they see fit and to base their morality on their religion if they so choose. It does not give them the right to use their religion as a tool to infringe on the rights of others. In addition, I believe that the idea that being a Christian means you cannot fully support the LGBTQ community is an insult to my Christian friends. The Christians I know use their religion to spread love and kindness rather than ignorance and intolerance. Laurie Throness believes that his views are in keeping with the majority of Chilliwack voters. I believe that things are changing and that Chilliwack is poised to catch up with the values of the broader Canadian society. I urge all progressive people to get out and vote, starting with the municipal elections in 2018. If we throw up our hands and give up on politics because we see our town as a lost cause, Mr. Throness will be proved right. If we organize and get out the vote, we could see a much better Chilliwack in the near future.