A Surrey school trustee candidate is firing back at a South Surrey-based group that wants the Surrey Board of Education to quash its anti-homophobia policy.
B.C. Parents and Teachers for Life (BCPTL), a self-described pro-life, pro-family organization, delivered a position paper and hundreds of signatures opposing the regulation earlier this month.
Among other things, the BCPTL’s paper says the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity portion of the Safe and Caring Schools policy passed in 2013 “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.”
Nicole Joliet, who’s running in the Nov. 15 election, was outraged upon hearing about the crusade against the anti-homophobia policy.
“This is downright horrible and hateful,” she said. “Their statements make it sound like the protections our children need somehow constitute vile brainwashing propaganda.”
She said she was taunted daily in high school and there were no LGBTQ-friendly spaces or services at her school, or any policies that specifically addressed homo- and transphobic harassment. (LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning). Joliet said the bullying affected her studies and left her with lingering anxiety and depression.
“To hear people claiming that a policy against this harassment is ‘homosexualist propaganda,’ as though they have some sort of right to bully and harass students for being LGB or trans because our existence is part of some political debate, as if our suffering is not at all real, makes me sick to my stomach,” Joliet said.
The BCPTL criticized not only the lack of “facts about the consequences of homosexual behaviour included in school materials designed by pro-homosexuality activists,” but claims Surrey school trustees did not provide parents the opportunity to voice their concerns.
“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,” stated an Oct. 16 news release.
In fact, it was 2012 when the board struck a committee of teachers, parents, students and district staff, which spent months forming guidelines aimed at supporting “students, staff and community members of all sexual orientations or gender identities.”
A year later, in June 2013, an anti-homophobia policy was unanimously approved by the board.
Regardless, Ted Hewlett, past president of BCPTL, wants his group’s concerns addressed as soon as possible. The school district said last week it was formulating a response.
– with files from Tracy Holmes