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  • Eva Kurilova

Shafted - The Gender Goldmine

How a BC businessman is funding "drag pedagogy" in Canadian Education


by Eva Kurilova


Gender identity ideology has spread so quickly throughout society partly because it is often funded by very wealthy individuals. American journalist Jennifer Bilek has exposed many of these wealthy backers, including the Pritzker family and dual Canadian/American citizen Martine Rothblatt.


Another significant individual bankrolling the gender identity movement in Canada, both in primary and post-secondary education, is mining magnate Robert A. Quartermain.


Recently inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, Quartermain has enjoyed a long and successful career in the Canadian mining industry. He graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1977 and became the president of Silver Standard Resources in 1985. By 2009, he had grown it into the largest silver in-ground resource holdings public company in the world.


In 2010, Quartermain started his own company, Pretium Resources, and established the Brucejack goldmine in northern British Columbia. Brucejack commenced production in 2017 and is today the fourth-largest gold mine in the country. Pretium Resources was acquired by Newcrest Mining for $3.5 billion in 2021.


Aside from his business prowess, Quartermain is known for his philanthropic giving, particularly to the University of New Brunswick. In 2005, he donated $1 million to establish its Quartermain Earth Science Centre. Over the years, he has donated a total of $2.5 million to other earth sciences initiatives and scholarships at his alma mater.

Quartermain, who resides in British Columbia today, has also been a generous donor to the University of British Columbia. But his donations there have been for an entirely different cause—the cause of pushing gender ideology into the education system.


In 2009, Quartermain made an anonymous donation of $1.76 million to establish the Jane Rule Endowment for the Study of Human Relationships. UBC News described the donation as “Canada’s largest university endowment for the study of human relationships and sexuality.”


The fund was made in the name of the late Jane Rule, a Canadian author, feminist, and lesbian activist whose first work of lesbian fiction, Desert of the Heart (later adapted into the film Desert Hearts) came out in 1964.


Quartermain dissolved the fund in 2018, after it had grown to an amount of $2,191,184.70 and a market value of $2,602,260.82. Upon dissolution, the fund was to make approximately $370,000 available on average each year for seven years.


The result was a University of British Columbia Faculty of Education program called SOGI UBC: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Inclusive Education. The aim of SOGI UBC, according to the program’s website, is “to transform educational environments to support self-determination surrounding gender and sexuality in schools.”


SOGI UBC currently operates a number of initiatives in an effort to meet this goal, such as the Transformative Education Speaker Series, which focuses on “anti-oppressive teaching and learning.” Past topics include “Queering Land-based Education,” “Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects,” and “Two-Spirit, Queer and Trans Indigenous Youth Change-making.”


Another initiative is the Anti-Racist SOGI Professional Development Sequence which seems to be less about race and more about gender and sexuality in relation to school-aged kids. The first learning outcome is listed as “identify key concepts in current K-12 settings as they relate to sexuality and gender.”


This past summer, SOGI UBC also held a Trans Freedom Summer School for “youth, educators, and allies” in collaboration with the University of Arizona’s Trans Studies program. The very first talk of this three-part “political education webinar series” was called “Telling the Stories of Trans Children for our Freedom.” Given by Jules Gill-Peterson, a professor of trans history at Johns Hopkins University, the talk was all about using the idea of a trans child in order to imagine a future with “trans freedom.”


There is, of course, no such thing as a trans child. It is concerning for an education department to use gender non-conforming children as a tool for furthering the political goals of trans-identifying adults.


It doesn’t stop there, either. SOGI UBC recently put out a call for proposals from undergraduate and graduate students across Canada for “gender and sexuality” resources for pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students.


Why is the SOGI UBC program so dominated by a focus on the “gender identity” and sexuality of minors?


Meet Harper Keenan, the inaugural Robert Quartermain Assistant Professor of Gender & Sexuality in Education. Keenan grew up and went to school in the United States, earning her doctorate from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2019.


In January 2021, she co-authored a paper with drag queen Lil Hot Mess called “Drag pedagogy: The playful practice of queer imagination in early childhood.” Lil Hot Mess, whose real name is Harris Kornstein, is an Assistant Professor in Public & Applied Humanities at the University of Arizona.


Harper Keenan (harperkeenan.com)
Harris Kornstein (pah.arizona.edu/people/harris-kornstein)

Kornstein is a founder of the notorious Drag Queen Story Hour movement, where drag queens read books to kids at libraries, schools, and other events. He also wrote the infamous nursery rhyme picture book The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish. Seeking to make drag appealing to children, the book is a play on “The Wheels on the Bus.”


(Related reading: Objection to Drag Queen Story Hour in Western Quebec schools)


In 2021, Kornstein participated in a panel talk, facilitated by Keenan, about the topic of “drag pedagogy for the SOGI UBC Transformative Education Speaker Series.


“Like many queer kids, [drag] was something that I was just drawn to,” Kornstein says in the discussion. “A lot of people have drag families,” he continues, “and I eventually was adopted by a drag mother.”


Keenan (top middle) and Kornstein (top right) during the SOGI UBC drag pedagogy panel discussion

Why is any of this relevant to the University of British Columbia Education program?


Well, at the beginning of the video, Dr. Mary Bryson, a professor in the education faculty, tells us that, “The global intensification of hate-based right-wing aggression, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism reminds us just how crucial is transformative education.”


She continues: “How can we be assured that every school, every university, every workplace, hospital, library, is a transgender cultural district?”


The message is that drag, especially drag aimed at children, is essential for fighting “hate.” Not only is this ridiculous, but the “anti-hate” veneer hides something far more nefarious.


According to the abstract of Keenan and Kornstein’s “Drag pedagogy: The playful practice of queer imagination in early childhood,” two of the key elements of drag pedagogy are the “destigmatization of shame” and “embodied kinship.”


“Destigmatization of shame” seems to be largely about breaking norms and boundaries, especially as they relate to children:


Many campy drag aesthetics like parody and exaggeration destigmatize shame by placing the joke on society, rather than individuals, further revealing to kids that ideas of appropriateness are subject to change… Classroom teachers might similarly work to address children’s feelings of shame by highlighting the arbitrariness of norms.


By “embodied kinship,” Keenan and Kornstein explain, “we suggest that DQSH offers a queer relationality with children that breaks from the reproductive futurity of the normative classroom and nuclear family.”


In his excellent investigation into Drag Queen Story Hour, American journalist Christopher Rufo calls the paper a “manifesto” for the Drag Queen Story Hour movement, highlighting these two elements as well:


As Kornstein and Keenan explain, this is an intellectual and political project that requires drag queens and activists to work toward undermining traditional notions of sexuality, replacing the biological family with the ideological family, and arousing transgressive sexual desires in young children.


Part of what “queer” seems to mean to Kornstein and Keenan is the disruption of stable and protective elements in a child’s life. The other part is the upending of sexual norms and boundaries, painting them as arbitrary and oppressive.


Make no mistake—drag is a form of adult performance that often features vulgar and sexual themes. Its proponents pretend that what is being presented to children is sanitized and “family-friendly,” but this is very often not the case. Videos routinely go viral of drag queens—who, keep in mind, are adult men—dancing in a provocative manner, flashing their crotches at children, and collecting tips as they would at a night club.


Kornstein and Keenan themselves admit that what is mean by “family friendly” is not that Drag Queen Story Hour is wholesome and desexualized entertainment, rather:


It may be that DQSH is “family friendly,” in the sense that it is accessible and inviting to families with children, but it is less a sanitizing force than it is a preparatory introduction to alternate modes of kinship [emphasis mine].


One would hope that Quartermain did not intend for his endowment to help build a program that seeks to indoctrinate children into “queer” culture. Unfortunately, his other charitable activities in British Columbia also contribute to this cause.


In 2007, before Quartermain even made the Jane Rule endowment, he founded the ARC Foundation, the Vancouver-based organization behind the SOGI 1 2 3 program spreading throughout Canada.


SOGI 1 2 3 teaches that everyone, even young children, has a sexual orientation and a gender identity (SOGI). It sells itself as an anti-bullying program but, instead, it promotes the idea of gender self-identification and often introduces topics of sexuality at inappropriately young ages.


The program also directs schools not to disclose a child’s trans identity to parents, aligning with the goals of drag pedagogy to drive a wedge into the family and direct the child to their new, “queer” family instead.


SOGI 1 2 3 was swiftly taken up by every single school district in British Columbia after the Liberal Government passed Bill 27 in 2016 to amend the human rights code to include “gender identity and expression.”


Quartermain was at the legislative assembly gallery on the day the bill passed and was introduced as a friend by Liberal party MLAs. On a relevant note: he has donated $217,695.00 to the BC Liberal Party over the years.


SOGI 1 2 3 then moved into Alberta, where it received further support from the Stollery family, namely from married couple Douglas Stollery and Scott Graham, who are both involved in the ARC Foundation.


In August 2022, the ARC Foundation announced that it had received a $396,497 federal government grant to expand the program nationwide.


Quartermain also used the ARC Foundation to run a kind of proto-SOGI UBC program before dissolving his endowment. In May of 2016, UBC announced that it had received a $125,000 gift from the ARC Foundation to create the UBC-ARC Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Education Fund.


The fund was used for a “social justice initiative” called Teacher Education for All! The goal of the initiative was to:


Build capacity for faculty, staff and students in the Teacher Education program at UBC to create and provide an inclusive culture, work place, and learning environment with a particular focus on intersectional approaches to thinking about sexual and gender diversity in public educational settings.


The initiative ran until 2018, when it was replaced by SOGI UBC.


Until recently, Quartermain has been silent on his reasons for starting and funding these SOGI initiatives. He only came out publicly as a gay man this past year and has not been known throughout his career for speaking about contentious social issues. In fact, he enjoys a positive public image and has been lauded for his engagement and relationships with Indigenous communities.


It is hard to square the public image of a respected businessman with a seemingly good head on his shoulders with the man who created SOGI UBC and SOGI 1 2 3.


In September 2022, at the Mining Legends Speakers Series at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, Quartermain offered some insight into his choice of charitable work. He began by speaking about the difficulty of coming out in the mining industry, which he started in when it was still legal to fire employees for their sexuality.

Quartermain at the Mining Legends Speaker Series (Source: The Northern Miner)

Quartermain also delves into the very real issues facing same-sex attracted people worldwide, like the fact that homosexuality is still outlawed in several countries and that lesbians still face honor killings. He describes his own sexuality as a “function of biology” and “genes.”


There is a noticeable dearth of social justice buzzwords and ideas in Quartermain’s talk. In fact, the way he describes homosexuality is antithetical to ideas of sexuality based on gender, gender identity, and gender expression rather than biological sex.


In his Canadian Mining Hall of Fame tribute video, Quartermain even credits his success in life to the “Christian conservative values” that he grew up with.


All of this calls into question whether he is fully aware of what SOGI UBC and SOGI 1 2 3 are pushing. Are these ideas that Quartermain himself champions, or is he throwing money at the cause while ideologues twist what was supposed to be a serious department of study and a genuine attempt at an anti-bullying program into a vehicle for drag pedagogy?


The sad truth is that gender ideology has been creeping into the University of British Columbia Faculty of Education for over a decade, starting well before Quartermain dissolved the Jane Rule Endowment.


A source I spoke to recalled that, around 2011 and 2012, it was still possible to have robust and thoughtful discussions—even constructive and respectful arguments—around the topics of sex, sexuality, and gender.


However, in 2013, these topics became a part of the curriculum, and professors were expected to teach units on gender and gender identity in line with gender identity ideology orthodoxy. By 2016, conversation was thoroughly chilled and there was no discussion or critique allowed around ideas like “trans women are women.”


Another sad truth is that the influx of Quartermain’s money has provided the faculty with the resources to invite radical gender ideologue speakers and pursue initiatives that push these ideas even more adamantly onto student teachers and, eventually, into K-12 classrooms.


It is not hard to imagine that a man who didn’t feel comfortable coming out until later in life genuinely thinks that what he is doing with his charitable activities is helping children and young people like himself.


“I never saw myself reflected in school,” Quartermain says in the Mining Legends Speakers Series. “If we all see ourselves reflected in society as equal partners, then it’s going to be a much better place for everyone to live.”


Unfortunately, SOGI programs often teach young, gender non-conforming boys who might grow up to be gay like Quartermain that their likes, interests, and behaviors mean they are really girls.


Many gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people are waking up to the fact that the gender identity movement is not for us. These ideas twist our understanding of sexual orientation, take away our ability to advocate for ourselves and our interests, and harm gender non-conforming children who might otherwise grow up to be same-sex attracted.


Quartermain presents himself as a man of data and science. It is becoming clearer every day that gender identity ideology is harmful to children, to same-sex attracted people, to women, and to some of the most vulnerable individuals in society. It’s time for him to face the facts.


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