LGBTQ+ advocate John Federici (right) stands with a pro-SOGI sign alongside his husband, Karl Federici, following an interview on SOGI learning resources in Abbotsford schools. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

LGBTQ+ advocate John Federici (right) stands with a pro-SOGI sign alongside his husband, Karl Federici, following an interview on SOGI learning resources in Abbotsford schools. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

VOTING DAY: Questions and clarity on SOGI 123 in Abbotsford

Candidates raise concerns, but advocate says opposition to SOGI 123 ‘uneducated’

As Abbotsford gears up for another school board election, a number of candidates have voiced concerns regarding the SOGI 123 initiative implemented in B.C. schools.

But an advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and their families is pushing back against those rallying against SOGI 123 (sexual orientation and gender identity) and similar resources.

RELATED: Abbotsford candidate list released as nomination period closes

“Should any trustee candidate be against SOGI 123 being a set of resources that teachers can use in the classroom, I personally think that means that the trustees are not only uneducated on this subject, but also don’t represent, nor care enough about the safety of all students, youth and children that identify (as LGBTQ+) within the school system,” said Abbotsford PFLAG president John Federici, who declined to name anyone to avoid appearing to actively endorse any candidate.

In an Abbotsford News survey, 17 trustee candidates ranked issues from one (strongly disagree) to five (strongly agree), including two SOGI-related questions.

Find our Abbotsford Election Hub here.

Here’s how they line up on SOGI:

1. I support the use of inclusive materials in classrooms set out by the learning resources portion of the SOGI 123 initiative. Average: 3.2/5

Strongly agree: Shelley Godwin, Raj Patara, Heidi Smit-Vinois, Stan Petersen, Freddy Latham

Agree: Preet Rai, Rhonda Pauls

Strongly disagree: Earl Storey, Krista Cardinal, Korky Neufeld

Disagree: Kathryn Sobko

Five candidates were neutral.

2. I accept that the school district must have a SOGI-inclusive code of conduct along with anti-bullying policies, which are mandated by the provincial government. Averaging: 3.9/5

Strongly agree: Pauls, Patara, Smit-Vinois, Petersen, Godwin, Latham, Wilson, Graham Evan MacDonell

Agree: Jared White, Rai

Strongly disagree: None

Disagree: Sobko, Cardinal

Six candidates were neutral.

Abbotsford candidate rankings
Infogram

RELATED: Here’s what you need to know about Abbotsford’s 17 school board candidates

Candidates were also asked to outline the top-three issues they felt voters needed to know about. SOGI came up in five candidates’ write-ups, including potentially misleading information.

In her submission, Cardinal wrote that “SOGI has not been approved for use in Abbotsford, but it is being used.”

Indeed, no SOGI-related learning resources have been approved for use in Abbotsford, according to school board chair Shirley Wilson, but classes still must meet provincial expectations.

“All schools in B.C. have to meet the expected learning outcomes of B.C.’s curriculum – and topics related to acceptance, diversity, sexual identity are included in the curriculum,” the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

Sobko, on the other hand, wrote that she was concerned that SOGI resources expose “children to sexual content, in every grade starting at the age of 5.”

But none of the SOGI 123 materials for K-7, available on the SOGI 123 website, reviewed by The News contains sexual content, instead focusing on gender labels or pronouns, gender norms and family diversity.

Find all local election-related coverage here.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two teens were sent to hospital after being stabbed Saturday evening. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Two teens stabbed in Abbotsford

20-year-old man has been detained

The Bug Girl, written by seven-year-old Sophia Spencer, is being given to 500 B.C. classrooms as part of Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month. (Submitted photos)
Reading challenges part of Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month

Abbotsford-based BC Agriculture in the Classroom participates in 10th annual event

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother missing for four weeks

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

Most Read