Brad Dirks is the father of a transgender child in the Langley School District and will be at the rally Sept. 26 and the school board meeting that follows it. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

Langley dad says SOGI will save lives

A local man says the policy will help kids feel safe in school.

The parent of a Langley transgender teen plans to be at a rally before the Langley School Board meeting and at the meeting Tuesday.

People for and against the new Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity curriculum being implemented throughout B.C. will be in front of the Langley School District board that evening.

Brad Dirks’ son attends school in Langley. His teen is active in school, has friends, has earned awards, and volunteers. It’s been a four-year process. Dirks worked with the school when his child began transitioning.

“They were sensitive to everybody,” Dirks said.

The life-long resident of Langley can’t imagine a young person having to face growing up and figuring out who they are in an atmosphere of bullying and intolerance.

That’s why he will be at the board meeting to show support for LGBTQ people.

“We are all part of the same community,” he said.

The group Parents United Canada and its leader Kari Simpson have been lobbying against SOGI. PUC asked to be on the school board agenda for Sept. 26.

When local resident Stacey Wakelin saw that opponents of SOGI were going to speak at the Langley School District board meeting Tuesday evening, she and others advocating tolerance formed Langley Parents for Inclusivity and will be holding a rally before the meeting and sought to be put on the agenda.

• Read: Langley parents plan peaceful rally at Tuesday’s board meeting

Dirks recently found out about Wakelin’s parent group and joined.

He encouraged people to read the SOGI policy for themselves.

Dirks said it includes simple changes such as a teacher no longer walking into a classroom and saying ‘good morning, boys and girls’ but something gender neutral such as ‘good morning, children.”

The material is age appropriate, he added. The kindergarten and Grade 1 curriculum teaches children that there are different kinds of families, and that not every child has a mother and father in the home. That could mean kids in foster care, kids raised by grandparents, or kids with homosexual parents, for instance.

“I don’t believe SOGI has anything do to with sexualizing children or indoctrinating children,” he said.

Dirks said SOGI is about ensuring all students can feel safe in school.

“It’s for all students to feel comfortable and safe and secure,” he commented.

There was a time when women couldn’t vote, and people of colour couldn’t use the same facilities as other races, he noted.

“I love the fact that each generation gets better,” Dirks said about tolerance and inclusion.

This is the next phase of human rights. Dirks added that in the future, people will look back and wonder how people could have treated each other in the ways they do now.

Dirks said Canada has freedom of religion and people can teach their children anything they choose, but that doesn’t allow people to impose their beliefs on public policy when it involves taking away the rights of others.

A public school is supposed to teach children how to think for themselves and he doesn’t like that Langley is in the spotlight over issues of intolerance, he added.

Down the road, policies such as SOGI will help reduce the mental health, substance abuse and social problems for LGBTQ people, he predicted.

• Read: Conservative Langley activist opposed LGBTQ education project

• Read: New Langley parents group stands against discrimination, intolerance

Letter from Langley parent Brad Dirks to the Langley School District:

I am a father of a transgender son, who currently attends high school in the Langley School District. He is a happy, confident, passionate young man! He’s very active at his school; he’s won student film awards; he’s involved in drama; he volunteers; and he’s an “A” student. He has an active social life, has lots of friends, and is a normal teen.

He’s currently in Grade 11.

He’s grown up with all these kids, so his transition was as public, and out-in-the-open as it gets.

It’s not like he changed schools, or began transitioning when he went into high school with new kids and teachers. All the teachers, staff and students knew him before, during and after his transition.

My son‘s story is a “success story”! If it wasn’t for the support of the school he attends, the incredible staff and students, and the Langley School District, his story would have been a lot different. SOGI is extremely important, because kids like my son deserve to be recognized as being “equal”, so they can focus on getting their education and just being normal kids!

Earlier this month, all the kids went back to school, many of which are part of the LGBQT community. Others have 2 dads, or 2 moms. This is not a “values” or “moral” issue, the way that some opponents like to believe. The LGBQT community is “our community”! They’re not separate from us! We all wake up and go to school or work, come home, watch Netflix, pay bills & taxes, and spend time with the ones we love!

SOGI helps pave the way for LGBQT students and families to succeed and thrive in school from kindergarten through graduation. It’s not about special treatment; never has been, and never will. It’s about equality and respecting people who may be different from you. The world is a beautiful place, filled with all kinds of people. Thankfully, we’re not all the same! Our differences are something worth celebrating and embracing, rather than fearing and shaming.

I believe that every student,regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,deserves to have a safe, secure environment in our public schools, from kindergarten through graduation, so I fully support SOGI.

Thank you for listening,

Brad Dirks

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