The Abbotsford school district is reviewing its procedures for notifying parents after a father complained that he was given too short notice about what he called a “propaganda” presentation at his child’s middle school.
Superintendent Kevin Godden will set out to better define an administrative procedure that requires schools to give “reasonable notice” before presentations.
Wes Dyck said he learned on Friday, June 16 that there would be a presentation at Chief Dan George Middle School on Monday, June 19.
Dyck told trustees at a Tuesday board meeting that he had attended the June meeting with permission from the school.
“This training consisted of six videos and a presentation by two teenagers who stated that they did not identify with their birth gender,” Dyck said. “To sum up the presentation, it was propaganda designed to desensitize children to the entire [Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity] Agenda to normalize all forms of sexual expression based on feelings.”
Per board procedure, trustees did not respond directly to Dyck’s delegation presentation but later made the request to clarify notification procedures.
They did not respond to his other requests, including that future presentations be limited only to videos to ensure “accountability” for what is said and that parents be told they may opt their children out of SOGI presentations.
Dyck did not respond to emailed questions at press time.
Dyck misunderstood the intent of the June presentation at his child’s school, according to one of the presenters.
Brandon Yan, director of education for Out in Schools, said the presentation was meant to educate students about everyone’s sexual orientation and gender identity, including those who are straight and cis gender.
“Our work isn’t about telling people what they can and can’t do, it’s literally connecting their lives to the lives of LGBTQ people,” he said.
Chief Dan George was one of nearly 190 B.C. schools that invited Out in Schools to show videos and speak to students about LGBT issues during the 2016/17 school year.
Yan said teaching students about LGBT people will not influence their sexual orientation.
“That’s just not the way that education works because if that’s the way it worked, then I would be straight,” Yan said. “If education forced people to be a certain way, we wouldn’t have queer and trans kids because most of the material they’re getting in schools never talks about being queer or gay or trans.”
Yan said Dyck was also incorrect in believing the presenters were both transgender teenagers. Yan is 31 years old and not transgender; his co-presenter is transgender but was 29 at the time.
Parents don’t have the option to pull their kids from such presentations because they’re not sex-ed, Yan said. The desire to opt students out of SOGI material is misguided, he said.
“By wanting to opt your child out of that, I think they’ll be severely under-prepared for the real world,” he said. “It’s woven in throughout the curriculum and just because you happen to disagree, or think that LGBT people either shouldn’t exist or shouldn’t have human rights, won’t make that go away.”