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What exactly is SOGI education?

There is no separate and distinct SOGI program or curriculum. Sexual orientation and gender identity are important topics that are interwoven through several curriculum areas, most notably, physical and health education, language arts, and social studies. How the topics are introduced to students is dependent on the age and stage of their development. These topics may also be discussed as they arise in the daily lives of students.

Are discussions about sex or sexual practices taking place in elementary, middle, and secondary classrooms?

Discussions about sex in kindergarten through grade 5 are based around names for parts of the body, including private parts and also the physical, emotional, and social changes that occur during puberty, including those involving sexuality and sexual identity. In grades 6, 7, and 8, classroom discussions are based on practices that reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, strategies to protect students from potential abuse, exploitation, and harm in a variety of settings, and influences on individual identity, including sexual identity, gender values, and beliefs. In grades 9 and 10, class discussions address healthy relationships and healthy sexual decision making. 

Are school aged children too young to be learning about gender?

When discussing gender, the conversations are largely about what people like to wear, the activities they engage in and how they feel about themselves. Gender is about self-identity.  When students learn about the diversity found in gender, they have an opportunity to explore a greater range of interests, ideas and activities.

Aren’t elementary aged children too young to be talking about sexual orientation and gender identity?  Why can’t you just teach about bullying instead of talking about sexual orientation and gender identity?

It’s important that all students feel safe and welcomed in school. In order to do that, it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to learn about each other and celebrate each other’s differences.  Unfortunately, children are already learning homophobic and transphobic slurs starting in the primary years. The job of educators is to make schools safe by opposing all bullying and name calling.

Won’t talking about sexual orientation and gender identity confuse children/youth?

Information and discussion will not make anyone gay or straight. No one decides to be gay or straight, it is not a “lifestyle choice”. As students grow older, some will identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. All of our students need to feel safe, welcome and positively reflected in the curriculum.

Are students being told not to use “boy” or “girl” to describe themselves?

No, students have never been told this. Teachers have been asked to think about using more inclusive strategies for grouping students or speaking collectively about a class. For example, instead of saying “good morning boys and girls” a teacher may use a phrase such as “good morning students”. This allows for all students to feel included regardless of their gender identity.

Are students being told not to call their parents “mom” or “dad”?

No, students have never been told this.

Why is the Langley School District working on ensuring sexual orientation and gender identity are being taught in schools?

The work that is being done in the district is the Ministry of Education’s curriculum, it is not unique to Langley, it is provincial. This work has been mandated in both public and private school systems. The Langley School District is merely ensuring that the diversity that exists in school is reflected in the conversations in the classroom – there has been no addition to the curriculum. There is nothing overly new about this, a new subject area is not being introduced. Teachers have been teaching this curriculum for years, but there is an increasing awareness to be inclusive.

Can parents “opt-out” of education related to sexuality, sexual orientation and gender orientation?

The Provincial Government has allowed for some flexibility in the delivery of certain ‘sensitive areas’ of the curriculum, specifically topics related to reproduction and sexuality that some students and their parents/guardians may feel more comfortable addressing by means other than instruction by a teacher in a regular classroom setting. These topics do not include lessons and topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity, unless they relate to reproduction and sexuality. Read the Policy here.

I have concerns about what is being taught in my child’s classroom. Who should I talk to?

The best place to start is always with your child’s teacher. As with all areas of the curriculum, the classroom teacher is the most knowledgeable about the subjects being taught in individual classes. The school based administrator can also be an excellent source of information.