Abbotsford school trustees and staff were escorted by police from the monthly board of education meeting Tuesday night (Sept. 27) amid an anti-SOGI protest involving about 300 people.
School district spokesperson Kayla Stuckart said the demonstrators gathered outside of the school district administration office – located on Tims Street – prior to the meeting.
She said that, within 30 minutes of the start of the meeting, “disruptions arose that significantly impacted business proceedings.”
Video posted on social media shows the protesters holding signs with messages such as “Let children enjoy their childhood” and “Don’t mess with children’s brains.” They are also heard chanting “Leave our children alone!” and “Stop SOGI 123!”
Some of the protesters are shown within the board office.
A witness told The News that the demonstrators also banged on windows and doors.
Police escorted trustees and staff out of the building to a nearby location until the crowd had dispersed. The meeting did not resume.
Const. Art Stele, media officer with the Abbotsford Police Department, which is located adjacent to the school district administration building, said officers noticed the protest around 7 p.m.
He said they estimated attendance to be 300 people throughout the event.
“No arrests were made, and members assisted with traffic control to ensure the safety of both pedestrians and motorists in the area,” Stele said.
“Members also stood by, ensuring no violence or escalations were had upon school board members departing the area.”
Long-time trustee Shirley Wilson made a public Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 27), saying she is “deeply troubled by the misinformation and hate that is evident for those who are marginalized in our community.”
“Protests are fine if they are peaceful. They are not fine if they cause others to feel unsafe. It is becoming increasingly evident that hate and exclusion live here,” she wrote.
Stuckart said the board of education is working on plans to reschedule the meeting, with details to be posted online at abbyschools.ca.
Posts on social media indicate that anti-SOGI rallies will be held three times a week outside of Abbotsford city hall.
“Meet for our children. We must have a say in our child’s education,” they state.
The demonstrations follow nation-wide protests titled The 1 Million March 4 Children over what organizers are calling “indoctrination and sexualization” in schools. They are protesting provincial educational materials known as the SOGI (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity).
Abbotsford’s event took place last Wednesday (Sept. 20) in Jubilee Park, drawing hundreds of people. A counter-protest was also held.
Prior to the event, school district superintendent Sean Nosek sent a letter to families, denouncing the protest and saying the district “unequivocally” supports 2SLGBTQ+ students, employees and families.
Abbotsford Police escorted Trustees out of the building and through the crowd. pic.twitter.com/w2BzrrBS2J— Community Over Convoys (@COCVancouver) September 27, 2023