A conservative activist in Langley is opposing a provincial curriculum she calls a “political cult.”
Kari Simpson is upset about the use of SOGI 123, which stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
SOGI 123 was created as a resource for use by B.C. teachers, with the provincial Ministry of Education, the BC Teachers Federation, nine school districts, and Out In Schools, among other groups. The project includes best practices and curriculum resources for elementary and secondary classrooms.
Simpson was one of the speakers at a meeting at Murrayville Hall on Aug. 29.
She said the event drew a crowd of about 250 people and launched a new group, Parents United Canada.
“Parental rights is the main focus,” she said.
Simpson said about 4,000 people in Langley have connected with the new group through email or social media already, and she hopes to formalize PUC as a non-profit. More local meetings are planned later in the fall.
In the meantime, she plans to keep lobbying the provincial government – which sets curriculum policy.
“We’ll be asking for a full moratorium on SOGI, full stop,” she said, saying she’s recently sent a letter to Premier John Horgan. If they need to, they’ll go to court, she said.
Langley school board chair Rob McFarlane said there has been misinformation on the issue.
“Most of the parents who have approached me in the spring about this issue have incorrect information about what is actually happening in schools,” McFarlane said.
It is not about encouraging children to be gay, McFarlane said.
He compared it to education on religious topics.
“We don’t teach students religion in schools. We teach students about religions,” he said.
There’s no effort to indoctrinate, he emphasized.
“It gives them [teachers] resources to draw on,” he said of the SOGI 123 project.
Some of the information about SOGI, that was sent out by Simpson before the recent meeting, is directly contradicted by the SOGI 123 website.
“Are you okay with your five-year-old child having to declare the ‘gender’ that they identify with to their teacher on the first day of school, and being instructed to ignore their own family unit – and instead to imagine what it would be like to have two moms or two dads as parents…” read part of the poster for the Aug. 29 meeting.
In fact, the SOGI education website lists 10 key components, including confidentiality. “Students will have the right to the confidentiality of their official and/or preferred sex, gender and name,” reads the site.
Opponents of SOGI education have spoken at the last two school board meetings of the spring – before the summer hiatus – and are scheduled to speak again at the first fall meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, said McFarlane.
The controversy began after the school district sent home a letter to parents in March informing them about Ministry of Eduation efforts to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, including children and youths. The letter talked about how references to sexual orientations and gender identities must be included in school codes of conduct across B.C.
District policies have been updated to recognize sexual and gender orientation within anti-bullying and anti-harassment efforts, McFarlane said.
The district doesn’t oppose changes to local policies, but even if it did, these changes come from the provincial level, McFarlane said.
Simpson has been a conservative activist in the Lower Mainland for more than 20 years, involved mostly in family- and school-related issues.
She attempted to sue the late radio host Rafe Mair for defamation, a case that dragged on for years. In 1999, Mair was harshly critical of Simpson, who at the time was supporting a Surrey School District decision to block the use of so-called “gay books.” Mair won the case in 2008, after it went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
She runs the Culture Guard website with Ron Gray, who ran unsuccessfully as leader of the Christian Heritage Party in the 2008 federal election in the Langley riding.