The back-to-school countdown is on, and SOGI 123 program will be entering into its seventh year in B.C. classrooms – and so far been well received by not only educators but 2SLGBTQIA+ advocacy groups.
“We know that each child expresses themselves in their own unique way and that 2SLGBTQIA+ students, staff and families still face discrimination in our education system,” Education Minister Rachna Singh said in a statement for Pride Month in June.
The government continues to try to ensure that every school is safe and that the families, students and staff can feel like they belong with no discrimination, according to Singh.
Six years ago, SOGI 123 was implemented as a set of resources that could be used by teachers, families and students to help educate on 2SLGBTQIA+ and the issues the queer community faces.
Overall, the resource has been very well received and adopted by the school districts, according to Clint Johnston, president of the B.C. Teachers Federation.
“It has had across-the-board buy-in from education partners, us, the federation, CUPE and the ministry. So from our perception, it has done really well,” Johnson said.
Some districts are still working on delivering SOGI 123 in the way they’d like, but great progress has been made, according to Johnson.
All 60 school districts have sexual orientation and gender identity codes of conduct, along with resources like SOGI123, according to the province.
Victoria Pride Society also had a positive outlook on the curriculum, where it is going and the minor ways it might improve. All 60 school districts adopting the curriculum was a great step, according to Ace Mann, vice president and committee lead of the group.
“One of the things I liked is the fact that it was inclusive of everyone, even cis-gendered and heterosexual people, because all people have a sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Almost half of students witness or experience discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Statistics Canada. Mann said they felt like this is why resources like SOGI 123 are so important, noting it gives representation and being represented matters.
A lot of the resources seem to be related to parents and staff, they said, and having a one-stop shop for children to access resources in one place would be a next positive step.