A South Surrey-based “pro-family” group is calling on the Surrey School Board to rescind the district’s newly minted anti-homophobia policy.
And BC Parents and Teachers for Life officials hope the matter of Regulation 9410.2 is one voters will keep in mind as they head to the polls next month.
“It ought to be (an election issue),” Ted Hewlett, the group’s past-president, told Peace Arch News Tuesday. “This was something that was introduced that will affect parents and students. It was not introduced with the knowledge of most parents.
“It really caught us by surprise.”
School trustees gave unanimous support to the Safe and Caring Schools: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity regulation in June 2013, a year after a committee of teachers, district staff, parents and students was struck to establish it.
District spokesman Doug Strachan said this week he could not speak to the criticism, but that the district is “preparing a response.”
Following the regulation’s approval, one Surrey student called it “very validating.”
“It signals that the board does care about students like me and students who are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning), or have gay or lesbian parents or gender-identity issues,” Anthony Hope said. “The board is recognizing this and saying that it’s OK.”
Hewlett said a position paper and “hundreds” of signatures in support of rescinding 9410.2 were hand-delivered to the school board office last week.
The paper – which also calls on the district to initiate an “open discussion with parents and taxpayers to address the issues involved” – states that institution of the regulation “opened up the schools to wide-ranging indoctrination,” by mandating teachers and counsellors be trained “to be instruments of propaganda on behalf of homosexualist activism”; supporting gay-straight alliances “that spread… controversial viewpoints among students”; and “the altering of curriculum to make sure that the pro-homosexuality message permeates it.”
The paper criticizes the lack of “facts about the consequences of homosexual behaviour included in school materials designed by pro-homosexuality activists.”
And, it criticizes an apparent lack of opportunity for parents to prevent the indoctrination of their children.
“BC Parents and Teachers for Life wants the board to consider the viewpoints of parents who hold traditional views of sexual morality and do not wish their teachings undermined in the schools,” an Oct. 16 news release states.
The regulation’s history goes back about 17 years.
It began in 1997 when primary teacher James Chamberlain asked the board of the day to approved three children’s books featuring same-sex parents. His request was denied, sparking legal action that spanned years, divided the community, garnered national attention and proceeded all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Hewlett said he is hopeful the concerns raised by BCPTL can be addressed “as soon as possible.”
“Revisit the issues involved so that all parents get a chance to have a say.
“What happens in Surrey is often very influential,” he said.