Chilliwack School District was thrown into the SOGI discussions when a trustee posted his anger with the policy on his publicly accessible Facebook page. (Black Press file)

Teachers from Maple Ridge voice support for SOGI

Important to support LGBTQ+ students, say educators

Two teachers with connections to Maple Ridge are voicing their support for the SOGI curriculum.

The pair waded into the controversy with a social media posting headlined SOGI Support, addressed to administrators, school board members, teachers, students and allies.

“In light of some of the hateful commentary and actions surrounding its implementation in BC school districts, we feel compelled to offer our whole-hearted advocacy,” wrote Kathryn Ferguson and Erin Talbot.

“In short, we will not tread lightly. We will not honour rejections of this initiative. We will not allow hate to weave a web of abuse withing the halls and walls of our public schools.

“Today, out of respect for brave LGBTQ+ youth, we will stand up for them. We stand with all LGBTQ+ youth. Furthermore, we do so with immense pride.”

The full statement can be found here:

The statement also tells the students of Chilliwack “you are not alone.”

Ferguson is a teacher at Thomas Haney Secondary who is off on medical leave, while Talbot is on leave.

The pair were leaders in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows schools, and Talbot was part of the district’s Safe Caring and Healthy Schools Policy.

Ferguson calls Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows “the little district that could” for its progressive attitudes. It also added gender neutral washrooms at some schools this year.

Ferguson said they collaborated on the SOGI Support statement over the phone.

“I have never seen hate of this magnitude from any of our districts,” she said. It was breaking my heart. It was breaking both of our hearts, because we’ve seen the amazing results LGBTQ+ events and education can have,” she said. “We wanted to put out a call to arms for everyone who is like minded.”

She said the SOGI curriculum is “fantastic,” and is long overdue.

“They kids are always miles ahead of us.”

As a teacher, she said a student’s face might brighten up just by someone asking questions like what pronoun do they prefer .

“They think: ‘They get me. They respect me,’ and it’s huge.”

Conversely, she said a young LGBTQ+ student who is trying to figure out their identity could find ignorant tweets damaging.

“If you’re just 14 you haven’t built up that armour yet.”

“I just want to do my part in shutting down this abusive language.”

There have been rallies and expressions of support in Abbotsford and in Langley recently.

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