It doesn’t feel like a very safe atmosphere to speak up at such a time as this. But in the spirit of civil discourse, I would like to add some perspective to the SOGI 123 issue.
There’s a reason for this controversy, and it’s not because of one seemingly rogue school trustee and a band of religious protestors, though that is the impression from local and social media. A broader view reveals this controversy did not begin in Chilliwack and it won’t end here either. If you look beyond the Lower Mainland, you’ll see that the entire western world is engaged in the same debate, with health experts in Toronto being the most vocal in Canada.
The message given locally, from outgoing trustees to the Chilliwack Teachers Association to the head of BCTeachers Federation, is that those opposing SOGI 123 have unfounded concerns and should not be trusted. But these educational leaders are doing the public a disservice by minimizing the controversy. Opposition is strongly voiced by international health experts in both treatment and research. Sure, there are groups that dispute the research, but as an informed parent, I value my children’s education based on medical and scientific accuracy rather than activists’ objections.
One issue: teaching primary children that “gender is in your head”; “gender is a spectrum” (slide 11, SOGI Parent Presentation Resource); that there are more than two genders, and that children can be “gender creative” (SOGI video: Inclusive Environments). While some might call this progressive thinking, others will recognize it as a theory that is not backed by medical science nor consensus. Dr. Debra Soh, sex researcher and neuroscientist: “All sexologists know that gender is binary (male and female)” and “to say that gender is a social construct is factually incorrect” (The Federalist, August 3/18).
Then there is Dr. Lisa Littman’s now-published, inaugural research on Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, where alarming numbers of teens abruptly identify as transgender, with no previous gender dysphoria. Consider this: the British government is investigating “the 4,400% increase in girls being referred for (transgender) transitioning treatment in the past decade” such that “officials will look into the role of social media and the teaching of transgender issues in schools as part of their inquiries” (September 16/18, The Telegraph). Kudos to the UK Minister of Women and Equalities for pursuing this investigation.
It remains to be seen what the new school board will do with SOGI 123, but the controversy will not end with the election results since it reaches far beyond BC. If this teaching resource is serious about creating safety for students, it needs some serious revisions.
Transgender, gay, lesbian, and bisexual students deserve friendship, protection, support and care. All students deserve accurate and appropriate teaching. To those who say “love wins”, I would add “and truth matters.” We can’t have one without the other. The challenge will be for the school board to represent both.