SOGI protesters gather on overpass

Students say they don’t support having an “agenda” pushed on them in school

A group of about 30 people, including young children, parents and grandparents, gathered on the Vedder Road highway overpass in Chilliwack Monday, to protest a teaching resource called SOGI 123.

They held signs with phrases such as “Hands off our kids,” “Stop SOGI” and “Stop Harming our Children.”

Protesters say they are against the resource, despite it being approved by the Ministry of Education. The Chilliwack protest was planned to coincide with a North American wide protest called Sex Ed Sit Out. Larger protests were held in Vancouver and Victoria on Monday at 11 a.m., and counter protests from SOGI 123 supporters were also held.

READ: Protesters argue both sides of B.C.’s SOGI curriculum at teachers’ union office

While SOGI 123 isn’t sexual education curriculum, it does challenge traditional gender roles.

Chilliwack secondary student Hannah Henshall spoke to The Progress atop the overpass, and said she strongly believes the SOGI 123 program is “pushing an agenda.”

“I support people having freedoms, but not pushing their agenda on me … It’s damaging their little minds,” she said of younger students. “When they are little, they are trying to grow up mature.”

She said people should encourage boys to be boys, and girls to be girls.

Hannah and her sister Naomi both said they haven’t noticed a change in the classroom since the SOGI 123 program has been implemented, and they haven’t gotten into deep discussions at school about it because it’s “really sensitive right now” and they feel people are quick to judge them for not supporting the resource.

“A lot of them don’t want to listen,” Hannah said.

SOGI 123 has been hotly debated in Chilliwack since a local trustee spoke out harshly about the resource on his Facebook page.

Trustee Barry Neufeld has been asked to resign by several people, including the Minister of Education, after making statements that have caused some students and staff to feel targetted.

“My heart goes out to those families who are struggling under the threat: ‘Do you want a dead son or a living daughter?’,” Neufeld wrote on his Facebook page earlier this year. “My job description is that of a policy maker. And the current emphasis is on inclusion. I do not want to give in to the self serving agenda of the LGBTQ+ groups who want to be given priority as the most downtrodden of victims. One person mentioned that the many new categories that are included in the long list of letters now added after LGBTQ are a new ‘Caste system.’ They are no longer satisfied with mere tolerance or inclusion, they want to be celebrated and given priority. I can’t and won’t go there.”


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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