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  • Eva Kurilova

Parents revolt in BC Schools SOGI Information Session

by Eva Kurilova


In a recent SOGI education presentation to a BC school district, parents expressed displeasure at what their children are being taught.



On June 13, I attended a SOGI parent presentation via Zoom for the British Columbia Sea to Sky School District #48 disguised with the Zoom name Joanne Joyce (she/her).


The presentation was held by Out In Schools, which describes itself as “BC’s award-winning 2SLGBTQIA+ education program.” The program uses “film and facilitated group discussion to engage youth in building safer, more inclusive communities.” It is organized by Out On Screen, an annual “queer film festival” in Vancouver.


Out On Screens is a registered charity that receives substantial amounts of funding from the Government of Canada. A search for the organization on the government Grants and Contributions website turns up 27 records that add up just over one million dollars since 2008.


Parents were invited to the Out In Schools Zoom meeting with the following:


Come spend an evening with the Out In Schools team to better understand SOGI in relation to the BC Curriculum, and what your children learn when they receive an Out In Schools presentation or workshop. This informative and engaging session will provide the tools, language and context for you to better understand what your children are learning, as well as offer a safe space for you to bring your own questions.


There were roughly 26 attendees in the meeting at its height, and a contingent of about eight or nine parents that began expressing problematic opinions in the chat shortly after the presentation started.


The two presenters were Gavin (they/them), a non-binary-identified female, and Nish (she/her), also female and “queer.” There was also a Danny (he/they) who was mainly there to handle the tech side of things.


Gavin, the Out In Schools education director, has been involved with the program for over a decade. She laments the fact that it was not easy to grow up as a tomboy and is now part of a program that suggests to other little tomboys that they might not really be girls.


(I thought it pertinent to note that I was born just three years after Gavin and grew up as a tomboy as well. I want young girls like me to know that they are perfect just the way they are and that there is nothing wrong with their female bodies.)


As the meeting got underway, the presenters encouraged everyone to put pronouns next to their screen names.


Gavin opened the meeting by letting us know that Out In Schools is a “settler-run organization” but assured us that she has been personally taught a lot of things from indigenous people. She explained that the organization was entering its 20th year of delivering this type of education in school, which is geared towards talking to young people about sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).


The 2SLGBTQIA+ acronym was then put up on the screen, along with a poll asking attendees if they knew what the acronym stands for. Surprisingly enough, one of the poll options allowed parents to express that they don’t think these topics should be talked about in schools.


Gavin noted that some parents did indeed select this option. In response, she referenced the fact that British Columbia updated its human rights code in 2016 to include gender identity and gender expression, which meant that schools also had to update their codes of conduct in accordance.


This was essentially a way of telling parents who disagree with SOGI education that they have no say in the matter.


“For those of you who don’t think we should be talking about this stuff in schools,” said Gavin, “I hope that you can take a moment to expand your understanding.”


Then it was back to the acronym. Rather than explain each letter (“Google is a great resource,” said Gavin), Nish launched into a discussion of the word “queer,” which was to be used as an “umbrella term” and a “personal identifier” for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. She did acknowledge that the term has a history as a slur but said that it has been recently reclaimed by the “community.”


The next slide up was “SOGI: What is it & why do we need it?”


“It’s about all of us,” said Gavin, because you have a gender identity even if you are a man or a woman. “What SOGI does is it recognizes that queer and trans people exist. We’ve always existed in some form or another.”


She continued: “We’re not here to debate the existence of queer and trans people. We’re here to say we exist, and we exist in this beautiful array of ways.”


Acknowledging this is apparently crucial to creating a school setting where all students can learn in an environment free from bullying, harassment, and harm. According to the BC Ministry of Education, this requires visibility, protection, and inclusion.



At the same time as this slide was up, Danny put a definition of “cisgender” in the chat: “assigned sex at birth aligns with gender identity. i.e. the doctor said ‘it’s a boy!’ and you identify as a man.”


That’s when the questions started.


“I thought sex was observed at birth, not assigned,” said one parent. “When did this change?”


“I think it’s both observed and assigned,” said Gavin in response. “When a baby comes into this world, the doctor/parents look at the baby’s genitalia, makes an observation, and the assignment comes through the paperwork. So, when you have a birth registration and you assign the child the sex of either male or female, that is based on an observation.”


By then, more parents had started typing questions and comments about why this type of education was necessary, why parents were not included in the decision to implement it, and the fact that there are only two genders.


“Gender doesn’t just have two genders of boy and girl,” Gavin answered.


Though things were getting tense, the presentation moved on to the first short film of the evening, Woman Dress. Here is the description on the National Film Board of Canada website:


Pre-contact, a Two Spirit person named Woman Dress travels the Plains, gathering and sharing stories. Featuring archival images and dramatized re-enactments, this film shares a Cuthand family oral story, honouring and respecting Woman Dress without imposing colonial binaries on them.


The 2019 film is part of the National Film Board of Canada Five@50 collection, a “unique collection of five-minute shorts reflecting on contemporary LGBTQ2+ lives and identities.”


Many of the parents were obviously not interested in watching the film and continued typing in the chat about women’s sports and bathrooms, the format of how SOGI is taught in schools, and the differences between the two sexes.


Only three participants actually acknowledged watching the short film.


As the presentation resumed, Gavin noted the discussion going on in the chat. Appearing and sounding annoyed, she said, “I just want to acknowledge, again, whether or not we teach this in schools is not up for debate… You cannot respect someone if you do not understand their difference or at least understand that difference is a possibility in existing… If you’re here to continue to say that you don’t think it should be taught in schools and not actually engage with this as a learning opportunity, I will ask Danny to remove you from the room.”


Gavin then asked to hear the participants’ thoughts on the short film, but no one said anything.


After a long and awkward silence, she caved and answered a question on SOGI, providing some background on the SOGI 1 2 3 program started by the ARC Foundation, which I have also written about in the past. Though often mistakenly referred to as a curriculum, SOGI 1 2 3 offers “resources” for introducing topics on sexual orientation and gender identity in school.


As Gavin talked, more parents expressed their displeasure at SOGI education and one wrote that it was inconsistent to kick people out of the meeting for asserting the sex binary. To this, Gavin gave a confused response referencing intersex, assigned sex, gender identity, and said that, “even from birth, our bodies might not fit into that binary,” before trying to steer the conversation back to the short film.


“In the Cree language,” Gavin said, “they didn’t have gendered pronouns… Indigenous ways of knowing and being have expressed that there are different ways of understanding gender for all of time.” This was accompanied by a slide that contained a nonsensical definition of “two-spirit.”



Personally, I think it’s quite a leap, and an insulting one, to assume that a culture didn’t know what men and women were just because its language doesn’t have gendered pronouns.


During all of this, the chat continued to fill up with comments, but parents were much more eager to talk about the validity and appropriateness of SOGI education. Gavin trucked ahead with the presentation, lecturing participants by telling them that they couldn’t respect others if they don’t understand that there are “different ways of existing.”


Since questions were now coming in about how to keep children safe in co-ed spaces, Gavin paused and insisted that “it’s not the gender that matters, it’s the behaviour. If we are worried about young people being attacked in the bathroom, that’s not a gender problem, that is a behaviour problem… Having safe places to pee is an issue for everybody, not just young women.”


Gavin became quite upset that most people in the chat agreed that there are only two sexes/genders. “Here, we are to say that that is a fallacy,” she said. “That is false. It has been proven scientifically untrue.”


The word “intersex” was then introduced as an umbrella term for the “many different ways our bodies can exist in the world,” along with a slide quoting statistics about intersex that have been thoroughly debunked by evolutionary biologist Colin Wright.


Gavin and Nish continued to give incorrect information about intersex, using disorders of sexual development, which affect the sexes differently, to confuse the sex binary and push their narrative.



Gavin then launched into the “Gender Identity” slide, which contained the terms Cisgender Woman, Transgender Woman, Cisgender Man, Transgender Man, Non Binary, Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Agender, Gender Creative, and Demiboy/Demigirl. However, she only really dove into the difference between “cis” and “trans,” saying, “if how you feel about your gender aligns with what the doctor said you were at birth, then you would be a cisgender person!”


Though parents continued asking questions in the chat, Gavin said it was time to jump into the next short film, Meet the Transgender NCAA Swimmer from Harvard. Per the description on YouTube: “Schuyler Bailar is a decorated swimmer who was recruited to Harvard as a female, but has found peace after transitioning to a male.”


While waiting for the presentation to resume, Gavin began typing in the chat as well, where a discussion about intersex conditions was still ongoing. “So, most people either have xx or xy chromosomes,” she wrote, “but some people also experience variations in chromosomes (ex: x, XXY).”


I couldn’t help myself. I typed, “XXY is male,” and, “X is female.”


Gavin responded, “bodies are incredibly complex, and the point is that not all bodies align in ways we might expect. for example, some women who have a vulva/vagina have higher levels of testosterone, and might be born without a uterus, and have undescended testes in the place of ovaries.”


“Testes = male,” I said.


Finally, the presentation resumed. Nish and Gavin discussed the film while people continued talking about other topics in the chat, including the issue of men in women’s sports.


“Touching story about someone who made a choice as an adult,” said one participant. “Trans men aren’t competitive so no moral problem. However, consider Lia Thomas, a trans woman swimmer, and how unfair it is.”


The comment about Thomas went unacknowledged even though it was one of the few during the whole presentation that actually touched on the films being shown.


Gavin did, however, go off on a spiel about how medical transition only happens in adulthood or young adulthood and that, when it comes to underage children, doctors do not perform surgeries or prescribe hormones, calling it a common misconception. She said nothing about puberty blockers, and it is a lie that hormones and surgeries are not offered to minors. Gender Dissent has previously published an investigation into BC and Ontario gender clinics that provide services to minors. Even the World Professional Association of Transgender Health recently removed all age limits for treatment and surgery.


Nish, who revealed that she is an educator teaching kindergarten, then chimed in to talk about how SOGI education at that level is all about letting kids be free to express themselves how they want. For example, there are no boy toys or girl toys but just toys, and you can choose to play with the toys that you like. The same goes for colours and clothing and other ways children can choose to express themselves.


Gavin agreed, adding that “people, regardless of their gender… should be able to express themselves, play with the toys that they want, enjoy the colours that they enjoy, enjoy the clothes that they want to wear.”


“Nothing is inherently genderized,” Nish also commented. We will come back to this point in a bit.


Gavin then discussed how it was colonization and the church that imposed the gender binary on the rest of the world. She gave the example of indigenous children being separated by gender in residential schools and given haircuts and clothing associated with their genders, again pushing the idea that indigenous people did not understand the male/female binary, which is false and insulting.


“In the Quran, there is nothing against queerness,” Nish added as well. “People of all gender identities existed… there became a particular reason for the male-female position to be uplifted and then culturally it became more of a stigma… but this is not part of the Quran.”


Someone in the chat then asked, “how do you explain when you have a group of 5 girls who are friends. Within a 6 month time span, 3 decide they are trans, one decides they are non-binary and another identifies as pan-sexual? Please explain the statistics behind this.”


“I’m not a statistician,” said Gavin. “I cannot explain the stats behind this.”


Instead, she said it was because there weren’t safe spaces or the language available in the past for such people to come out. Getting more personal, Gavin described how her own journey began when she encountered the word “genderqueer” at 18 years of age. She then met more trans people and became more convinced of her new identity.


She recounted how she began her social transition by changing her name and cutting her hair, reneging the entire previous conversation about how nothing is inherently genderized. If not, then why should a haircut have anything to do with gender?


“At the end of the day, I don’t have to explain it,” said Gavin. “I chose to go the medicalized route for transition because I didn’t feel I could exist as myself.”


And this is what SOGI education is teaching children. If you don’t feel comfortable as yourself, then the answer is to change your body rather than learn to accept it.


Gavin went even further and began lecturing parents who would not accept a child’s declaration of a transgender identity, telling them, “I really encourage you as parents to try and set your biases aside and just listen to your young people.”


“So would you also consider that social contagion is a possibility?” asked the original questioner. This follow-up question went unanswered.


Finally, it was time for the third and final short film, The Light. Once again, the topic was gender (that’s three for three!). The 2014 short film is hosted by Out On Screens with the following description:


This music video from the artist Hollysiz, for her song “The Light,” relays the story of a gender non-conforming child who has trouble finding acceptance at school and at home with their father. While their mother is seemingly this child’s only ally, it takes time for this father to finally accept his child, no matter how they choose to express their gender.


For clarity’s sake: the child in the video is a boy who enjoys wearing a dress. Nothing else was explicitly stated. When Nish was explaining the video, however, she said that we can’t know how the child identifies and used they/them pronouns when speaking about the boy.


The video ends with the father putting on a dress of his own to show support for his son, which prompted this gem from Nish: “Even though we assume that the dad has not changed his gender identity—he probably still identifies as a man—he changes his expression.”


Here, Nish inadvertently admits that “gender expression” is often nothing more than clothing choices and that clothes are inherently gendered after all, contrary to what she was claiming earlier.


With that, Gavin took the mic to talk for a couple of minutes about “allyship” and why SOGI education is so important.


“What are the harms with allowing someone to explore and be curious?” she asked, in regard to gender transition.


Well, for one, children who receive puberty blocking medications proceed to cross-sex hormones more than 98% of the time. There is nothing wrong with allowing a child to explore and be curious as long as that does not lead to “affirmation” of a transgender identity and set the child on a pathway to medicalization.


“Allyship requires ongoing action, ongoing learning,” Gavin continued. “I encourage you to try and learn from your mistakes.”


Note that there is no option to not agree with SOGI education. Any critique is a failure of allyship and is always wrong.


“For those of you who came because you wanted to share that you didn’t think SOGI should be in schools, I hope that you were able to take something positive away from this experience,” she concluded.



A woman with the screen name Jodie Petruzzellis (she/her) then spoke for a short while. According to her LinkedIn, Petruzzellis is an art therapist for the Sea to Sky School District. She is also listed as a counsellor for Valleycliffe Elementary.


Petruzzellis revealed that it was the “mental health team” that brought the Out In Schools team in because of an uptick in mental health issues among youth, particularly “non-binary youth.” She said that she was incredibly grateful for the work that Out In Schools does.


While these closing remarks were happening, parents continued to fill the chat with their criticisms and concerns. Even though Gavin had said her goodbyes, she returned to chastise parents again and tell them that “trans kids” who are not safe at home deserve a “safe space” to exist outside of their homes, and that schools, fortunately, offer a place to find that safety and be themselves.


“An alive child is better than a dead child,” she said, “and many trans/queer young people contemplate suicide.”


Some of the responses in the chat included:


“That statistic is false!!!!”


“So we the parents are the problem?”


School District No. 48 superintendent Chris Nicolson, an out gay man, then jumped in and proceeded to ratchet up the rhetoric.


He started by acknowledging the differences of opinion on the topics being discussed but instantly compared the concerned parents to parents who were against the end of racial segregation in schools.


“This is no different than ensuring that we are supporting students of diverse needs,” he said, “when we stopped segregating and brought our kids up from the basements and into regular classrooms, when we had racial segregation and we were worried about the contagion of the black skin making other people black, right? And now we have those fears about making folks gay.”


“I’ve seen some things on the chat about an ideology,” Nicolson continued, “I would remind you that we are a public school and we are beholden to human rights and as was shared, in 2016 it was put into law that we have policy and procedures to be inclusive of the LGBTQIA+.”


“This is not a curriculum,” he reiterated as others had noted before. “It’s simply that opportunity to learn about the differences around us and to again, ensure that schools are safe spaces for everyone.”


It is seeming more and more as if not officially adding SOGI to the curriculum was done on purpose to make pushback and critique more difficult.


In the chat, a parent raised the issue of his daughter’s discomfort with sharing the bathroom with biological males, to which Nicolson responded that yes, washrooms were being redesigned in a “universal” manner that’s “just a place to go to the bathroom” with “open sinks for everyone.”


“In your own homes, you don’t have separate gendered washrooms,” he said. “Just like we don’t want to have a separate place for the coloured kid to go.”


Noting that he was “all fired up,” Nicolson turned to parents’ concerns about SOGI education taking away from a focus on academics, and that’s when the ideological mask fully came off:


“I want to tell folks for better or for worse, depending on your point of view, actually we know that school is far more than just about reading, writing, and arithmetic. It actually is about developing young humans to be caring, thoughtful, critical thinkers who are going to leave this world in a better place than we are. So that actually is the curriculum.”


There you have it. The schools have appointed themselves over parents as the developers of society’s children.


Nicolson then thanked Out In Schools one more time and added one more little nugget of emotional manipulation before signing off:


“I sure know that I wouldn’t have lost friends to suicide had I had these folks in my schools. I wouldn’t have considered it myself growing up. My mother wouldn’t have had a nervous breakdown.” He laughed.


And with that, the meeting ended.


The final message was clear: parents who had concerns about what their children are being taught about sex and gender in school are part of the reason why men like Nicolson had a difficult time growing up.


It was a fascinating meeting to sit in on and watch as every gender ideology talking point was rolled out one by one: that kids would be bullied if we don’t talk about sexuality and gender identity in school, that the idea of two sexes was imposed on indigenous people by colonialism, that the existence of disorders of sexual development means there are more than two sexes, and that children will commit suicide without SOGI education.


What was even more fascinating was how bold activists and educators (and activist educators) have become about their true reasons behind teaching SOGI materials to children. Kids are being openly enlisted in an ideological battle to create an idealistic world. But this has nothing to do with fostering moral development in children and everything to do with indoctrination into very specific and politicized ways of thinking. Education is completely captured by radical progressives who are pushing harmful lies and whose self-proclaimed victimhood status acts as a shield against criticism.


But the parents at this meeting showed us that asking questions and pushing back on this ideology is worth whatever accusations of bigotry and intolerance might result. The children are worth it.



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