Concerns over growing hate rhetoric have been resonating in the parent community across Canada, and our community of 5500 parents and guardians of children with disabilities and diverse abilities from all over BC is no exception.
I often say that people don’t come to BCEdAccess because things are going well. Families share many challenges that they and their children face when interacting with Education and other child-serving systems. Transphobia and homophobia feature highly among them.
A Rights-Based Approach
At BCEdAccess, we champion a rights-based approach to education, one that recognizes and upholds the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, irrespective of personal characteristics. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not personal choices nor a political position. They are protected classes under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the BC Human Rights Code.
Our annual Exclusion Tracker, now in it’s 6th year, has an optional section where we collect demographic information. According to the data from our 2021/22 report:
About 5% of parents/guardians responding to the survey identify as 2SLGBTQIA+
About 12% of children and youth of respondents identify as 2SLGBTQIA+
And exclusion is connected to this identity – in the same report, we share the following story:
A high school student of European ethnicity who identifies as
2SLGBTQQIA and is in care of the Ministry of Children and Family
Development has been restrained more than once this school year
and is currently excluded with no indication of when they can return
When students receive affirming messages and unambiguous factual information about sexual orientation and gender identity at school, they are better equipped to understand and accept themselves and others. When families are informed about the facts of what the SOGI123 curriculum resources actually are and how they are being used in their child’s school, any fears they may have because of misinformation that is being spread can be easily resolved.
Where to find information:
Your child’s teacher, the principal
3. Your school district or independent school authority
4. Ask your kids what they are actually learning – and then check in with the school to confirm
Building Safe and Supportive Environments
Disabled students within the 2SLGBTQ+ community face heightened risks of bullying and exclusion. Teaching that incorporates SOGI education is a significant step towards fostering safer and more supportive learning environments.
A Call to Action
Schools should be safe for all. At BCEdAccess we join the chorus of voices around the province who stand against hate, and we urge educators, policymakers, and community members to continue to speak up and take action, not only tomorrow (September 20th), but into the future, to safeguard 2SLGBTQIA+ students, families, and staff.