Alberta Politics

Why I Support SOGI 123

While I was researching some background information for an interview coming up this week, I happened upon this letter to the editor. It was written to the Vernon Morning Star in B.C. last year. I read it and I couldn’t stop myself from responding.

First of all, I had to continue the research after I found this letter. The SOGI Alberta website is amazing. The Guidelines adopted by the Alberta Government in 2016 are fantastic. Well; if you’re me they are. Because, once again, paying attention to things I disagree with force me to think about why I disagree with them. I highly recommend the practice.

So back to the letter. I want to respond to the reasons given for not supporting the program.

SOGI 1 2 3 helps educators make schools inclusive and safe for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI). At a SOGI-inclusive school, students’ biological sex does not limit their interests and opportunities, and their sexual orientation and how they understand and express their gender are welcomed without discrimination.

As a parent, I teach my child to be kind to others regardless of race, orientation, religion etc. If my child were gay I would want them to be welcomed with kindness in various circumstances as well. However, I am against SOGI for the following reasons:

1. SOGI focuses on sexual orientation and gender identity only. There are many other reasons why children bully others due to differences. For example, there are children with physical attributes or disabilities, there are children who wear cultural attire and there are children of visible minorities. Are these children not important? What is wrong with an anti-bullying program that encompasses all differences vs solely focusing on the LGBTQ population?

This is a common theme: if one group of people are given respect, respect for me or another group must be lessened; as if there’s only so much to go around.

In Alberta, a review of inclusive school policies began in 2007. “Inclusion” at that time was in reference to students on a “spectrum of ability” (my term). Ensuring schools, classrooms and teaching methods were suitable for children on a spectrum of disability did not exclude students of another culture, religion or colour. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe people jumped up saying “I feel threatened if students of varying abilities can all learn together!” Moving on.

2. SOGI celebrates alternative lifestyles that may conflict with family values. There are many cultures and religions that value the traditional family. If a student stated that they believed that a relationship was between a man and a woman but respected choices that were different, would this viewpoint be accepted in the classroom? Part of tolerance and inclusive environments is being respectful to all opinions, cultures, and religions.

Underlying misconceptions abound. First of all, society at large may not conform to your family values. The classroom, for all intents and purposes, is an introduction to society. It’s where children are first introduced to thoughts and ideas they may not have ever been exposed to. Other cultures, civilizations, history, math, people who look different than they do – it’s their first experience outside of their own home; it is society.

The classroom is not about your “family values”. It is an introduction to the world outside of the family. If a student stated they believed that a relationship was between two people of the same sex but they respected choices that were different, would you accept this viewpoint? No one is asking for your opinion. If learning about others poses existential issues for you… well, that’s really your problem.

I also liken this point of view to saying “I respect the fact that you’re not white but I believe white is right”. That isn’t tolerance, or respect but it is an opinion that, in the classroom, and indeed, society at large, is both hurtful and unnecessary.

3. School district policy states that discussions pertaining to religion must be neutral and objective, however, SOGI is a pro-gay curriculum. SOGI policy states that materials must be presented positively. SOGI policy states: “Classroom materials and activities will contain positive images and accurate information about sexual and/or gender diversity.” There are many emotional, physical, and mental issues that coincide with alternative lifestyles. I want my children to be aware of the negative health risks with these lifestyles. This is not being homophobic, it is being scientific and providing our children with all facts.

Sigh. To begin with, obviously, religion is a choice. Few people would know of God’s existence if it wasn’t taught to them. Each person, however, would make their own determination of who they wished to mate with; even without a classroom lesson.

Secondly, sexual education is not pro-sexual encounters. It teaches students about the function of coitus; without the pleasure or orgasm component (to my recollection). Also, the experience differs for religious schools. I wasn’t taught about sex from a pro-life representative but my children were.

In my experience, sexual education did not discuss the emotional, physical and mental issues that coincide with relationships ending. The health risks involved with all sexual behaviour are taught in sexual education classes; because they’re the same, no matter who you’re having sex with. Hate to break that to the haters and all.

Further, the “mental health issues associated with alternative lifestyles” exist because of bias and intolerance. Also relevant to creating mental health issues for engaging in non-alternative lifestyles, whatever those may be.

4. There are many studies that support that gender ideology harms children and confuses children. “The American College of Pediatricians urges healthcare professionals, educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts — not ideology — determine reality.” (2017).

Ah, the icing on the cake; this comment is mostly correct.

The idea that “women” do “women things” and “men” do “men things” is gender ideology and it is seriously harmful. I remember my mom being called a number of nasty things because she was a heavy duty partsman. She also despised “catty women” and wouldn’t go for coffee with the neighbourhood moms. And she was attracted to men. She was confounding to the gender-conformists.

Asking children to identify themselves on a “gender spectrum” only allows them, and others, to see that there’s no box that suits everyone; liking “boy” things shouldn’t make you a “boy”. We are basing our beliefs on a gender ideology that is limited and doesn’t fit everyone – not ourselves and certainly not our children. Teaching our children that it’s okay to be who they are, to like what they like and not have to conform to the ideology of gender that was decided for us by “traditional roles” is not a bad thing.

SOCI 123 offers the building blocks for creating a welcoming environment for children, no matter who or what they love; without the restrictions of a biased and unforgiving gender ideology. That’s why I support SOGI 123.

This post contains a lot of opinion.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean


Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all of the commentary; @thisweekinAB for posts; @politcalRnD for people who like to guess “who tweeted that?”

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