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

Nomination period closing soon for Abbotsford’s Arty Awards

Deadline of Aug. 1 set for 16th annual event which highlights local artists

Virtual Career Panel discusses job challenges faced by newcomers

Archway Community Services in Abbotsford participates in event on July 16

Abbotsford Hospice Society holds community scavenger hunt

Road to Gratitude event takes place on Sunday, July 19 by the carload

New book celebrates people and events that shaped Abbotsford

Pre-sales launched for Abbotsford – A Diverse Tapestry, to be released in fall

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Four-vehicle collision snarls eastbound highway traffic in Fraser Valley

Collision west of Lickman Road on Highway 1 includes three vehicles plus motorcycle

Most Read