A large group of concerned citizens, both in favour of and opposed to SOGI 123, at the May 8th SD72 board meeting. Christian Michael McCay, in blue, is seen at the left hand side.
A protest against the SOGI 123 program is planned for today and SD72 says it doesn’t mind, as long as it stays respectful.
Board Chair Richard Franklin says SOGI (Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities) was introduced to Campbell River Schools to make life better for students.
“SOGI was brought in by the last government, by the Liberal government to address needs in the school, to bring it into alignment with the BC Human Rights Code. What happened was the BC human rights code changed to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity could not be discriminated against in public institutions, private institutions, certainly school districts and we made sure that our board policies were in alignment with that.”
The protest is organized by the Canadian Christian Lobby and Franklin says it isn’t coming as a shock to the district.
“The Canadian Christian lobby is an organization here in Campbell River, you see them in front of the hospital. They’re against abortion and women’s right to chose and they’re an organization that is against SOGI 123 in particular and this is their deeply held beliefs.”
“We live in a free country and you can think what you want to think so it doesn’t surprise me at all because I believe that people have a right to their opinion, they have a right to express that to us.”
Franklin says the district has heard concerns from the group many times in the past.
“We’ve heard from Mr.Christian Michael McCay on numerous occasions. He’s presented to us I believe five times and he has met with both the current and former superintendent of schools six times. We also offered to McCay in writing ‘please if you have more information please do send us an email or letter and we will read every word that you send us.’ It comes with the territory that as an elected person you’re going to hear different points of view.”
He added that while the district always listens to concerns from the public, students are happy with the SOGI 123 program.
“Last year I had the honour of visiting with student leaders at our three high schools and one of the things that really came across from the students is that they are very grateful for the board of education for making the schools safe for all students.”
Franklin says the district board will be in a meeting tonight and he’s hoping it doesn’t get interrupted by the protests.
“It’s important for people to understand that a board of education is an elected body just like city council or the legislature and in neither of those locations is it allowed for protesters to come in and interrupt the council meeting, to interrupt the legislature, and it’s also against the law to interrupt the proceedings of a board of education meeting so we do hope that this time the anti-SOGI protesters if they do enter the meeting with show respect.”
The Anti-SOGI protest will take place tonight outside the Campbell River School District offices on Pinecrest Road.
According to a Facebook post from the Canadian Christian Lobby, it will start at 6:45pm and is expected to end at 7:45pm.