Why the sexual orientation policy in Kelowna schools is not 'propaganda' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why the sexual orientation policy in Kelowna schools is not 'propaganda'


Half of the candidates that took part in a Central Okanagan School District 23 all candidates debate didn't appear to understand what the government's sexual orientation and gender identity policy was but still said they disagreed with it.

At an Oct. 3 virtual school district trustee candidates forum, six of the candidates incorrectly referred to the sexual orientation and gender identity policy, or SOGI123 as it's more commonly called, as something that was either “taught” in schools or referenced that it was part of the curriculum.

Incumbent Lee-Ann Tiede described SOGI123 as "politics and propaganda."

Tiede didn’t elaborate on why the policy is "propaganda."

Candidate Lisa Guderyan said she wanted more of a say on how and when the sexual orientation and gender identity policy "curriculum is taught."

Guderyan is the daughter of Joyce Brinkerhoff who made headlines last year when running as a candidate in the school district byelection. Brinkerhoff was endorsed by the New Life Church in an action that may have breached Canada Revenue Agency's rules on the church’s charitable status.

Conservative Christian slate ParentsVoice B.C. is running four candidates, and they didn't appear to understand it either.

ParentsVoice candidate Tovey Demman said parents should know "what's being taught to their students."

Another ParentsVoice candidate Laurie Bowen said the current board has "failed to resolve" the issue, but didn't say what the "issue" was.

Candidate Teresa Docksteader – who has spread conspiracy theories online – said she failed to understand why the government felt "compelled to teach this in schools."

ParentsVoice candidate Chris Fieber said children "shouldn't be talked into things."

When reached by phone and asked what "talked into things" meant? Fieber replied "you know exactly what I mean," but wouldn't elaborate. He then hung up.

Incumbent trustee Julia Fraser set the record straight at the all-candidates debate.

"SOGI123 is not a course, it's not a curriculum, or a lesson plan," Fraser said.

Simply put SOGI123 is not "taught" in schools.

Fraser pointed out that SOGI123 was a policy to make sure students felt welcomed and included in schools she also said she supported it.

Candidate Chanetelle Desrosiers shot back at the candidates that hadn’t supported SOGI123.

“That fact that we are even discussing the exclusion and marginalization of students, it should never be part of any conversation regarding education," she said.

Incumbent trustee Wayne Broughton said he also supported the policy.

"My own kids are on the LGBTQ spectrum so I'm keenly aware of the importance of feeling safe, included and like they belong at school and in their community,” he said.

READ MORE: ParentsVoice candidates a no-show at Vernon school district debate

From the responses from candidates Tiede, Guderyan, Demman, Bowen, Docksteader, and Fieber, it appears that they believe that SOGI123 is a lesson taught in schools.

"It's not a part of the curriculum," School District 23 retiring board chair Moyra Baxter told iNFOnews.ca. "(SOGI123) is just resources that can be used by teachers."

SOGI123 is a provincial government policy introduced in 2018 to bring school districts' policies in line with the B.C. Human Rights Code. The second part of the policy was to make sure schools were inclusive environments, not just for students but for employees and parents as well.

The third part was to provide resources for teachers to talk to students if needed.

Candidate Val Johnson said at the all-candidates debate that SOGI123 had become a hot topic because certain groups in our community continued to bring it up.

"I'm also frustrated that this continues to be made into an election issue," she said. "I also support SOGI123… All children in our district deserve to feel safe and supported."

The comment was reiterated by candidate Gordon Wiebe, in answers to questions posted online.

"It’s regrettable when self-interested members of the community use these 'hot button' issues to further their own agenda and limited world view," Wiebe said in the statement. "If I were to 'change' anything, it would involve curtailing the misinformation that inflames the public discourse."

And that disinformation is being spread by certain groups.

On Sept. 28, anti-mandate group Action4Canada released a statement accusing the Central Okanagan school district of criminal activity for "sexually grooming children" and using "pornographic images, vulgar language" and promoting "rape and incest."

The school district fired back with a statement — signed by five trustees: Norah Bowman, Wayne Broughton, Julia Fraser and Chantelle Desrosiers — saying it would not tolerate the abusive behaviour.

Amy Geistlinger, who has won the Lake Country seat by acclamation, and candidate Tiede didn't sign the letter. What candidates Erica Sheperd, Karrie Fehr, and Chris Becenko think isn't known as none of the candidates attended the all-candidates debate or supplied written answers to questions.

READ MORE: Mysterious slate of right-wing school board candidates on Vernon, Kelowna ballots

However, Sheperd posted on Facebook that SOGI123 is "meant to sexualize children."

"The solution the government has after causing the problem is to have children transition; Transitioning means providing drugs and surgically removing healthy body parts," Sheperd's post reads.

Somewhat lost in the noise is that if parents want their children removed from Sexual Health Education they can easily do so, Baxter said.

Candidates Demman, Docksteader, Bowen and Shepard were not immediately available for comment.

For a full list of candidates for School District 23 go here.

READ MORE: Kelowna's new political slate is right-wing — but how right wing?

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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