OPINION: SOGI education opponents offer no alternative to help bullied LGBT youth

Anti-SOGI activists, trustee have no answer to high suicide rates among LGBT teens

Six months before activists in the Fraser Valley made the province’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education materials a major talking point, I sat down for an interview with Dan Cameron, the Christian Heritage Party’s candidate for the Abbotsford-Mission riding.

It did not go well.

I had already engaged in cordial interviews with his CHP colleagues, but Cameron came with one goal: to read a statement railing against the inclusion of SOGI materials in the B.C. curriculum.

After a contentious back and forth, I let Cameron read his statement, then tried to press him on a key underlying fact that has gone largely ignored by those opposing education about sexual orientation and gender issues. That question: How does our society address the fact that LGBTQ youth are much more likely to try to kill themselves than are straight students and teens?

It took a while to get Cameron to engage with the question, but when we got there, he finally came up with an answer: Love them.

As super-broad, non-specific solutions to a deadly serious issue go, “love” sounds good. The problem is, we are talking about teenagers, a demographic not particularly inclined towards the platonic, non-puppy-eyes love of their peers.

Try telling a group of 16-year-old guys to “love” their classmates, especially those who are different from them. I’ve been impressed by how the attitudes of young people have changed in the 15 years since I graduated from high school, but these are still young people we’re talking about.

The SOGI materials at the centre of the controversy actually aim lower than Cameron’s proposed solution. The idea is to create an atmosphere of acceptance for LGBT youth, thereby reducing rates of bullying and suicide attempts.

You don’t need those 16-year-olds to love their transgender classmates. You just need them to accept them enough to not target them for ridicule, ostracism and verbal and physical abuse.

Which is where we get to the recent protests over the SOGI education. Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld says the education will spur “gender confusion,” and that districts should be “gently encouraged to be comfortable with their bodies.”

Neufeld’s comments, though, have completely ignored the purpose – and intended audience – of SOGI education. The problem is not girls and boys who may (or may not be) confused or questioning their bodies, but rather the straight children, teens and adults who have for decades bullied them to suicide. Neufeld is proposing a status quo that has cost thousands of LGBTQ youth their lives. He and his supporters have offered nothing to fix the startling suicide and homelessness numbers that undergird the recent move to more inclusive education.

Cameron’s idea that “love” will save us is rooted in the Bible instruction to “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” It’s a noble sentiment, but one that has failed LGBTQ youth for centuries.

Everyone can use more love, but it does not seem to be what the LGBTQ community is asking for or in need of. Hugs are great, but what bullied youth need is to stop being bullied.

Education aims to address that. The solutions pitched by SOGI opponents do not.

tolsen@abbynews.com

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

Just Posted

Machine pistol among 14 firearms seized from Alaska man at Abbotsford border crossing

Corey Scott Kettering faces charges of smuggling and prohibited firearm possession

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

UFV to launch Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Abbotsford

Online event on Sept. 24 features keynote speaker Bob Rae and Steven Point

UFV wrestler Jason Bains receives four-year suspension for using banned substance

Surrey native tests positive for oral steroid Turinabol, silver national medal removed for violation

Fraser Valley foursome to hike 70km over mountains in memory of friend

Friends from Abbotsford and Langley to hike from Hope to Tulameen for Brook Morrison

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Mother-daughter charged in 2017 torched-SUV killing in South Surrey now allowed contact

Judge grants Manjit Kaur Deo permission to connect with Inderdeep Kaur Deo through a lawyer

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

Thousands of child care spaces coming to 35 B.C. communities

Province announces milestone in Childcare BC plan

Most Read