May 16, 2018
Dear Parents and Guardians,
On Monday and Tuesday this week, anti-SOGI activists were distributing materials at two of our district elementary schools during afternoon dismissal. These materials were primarily distributed to parents, but we have also received information that in some instances these individuals directly approached students and gave them leaflets as well.
Given that this group has taken this approach for the last two days, I felt it important to alert you that you may encounter similar disturbances at and around your child’s school. At Penfield Elementary, these individuals were directly on school property and had to be asked to leave and at both Penfield and Georgia Park elementary schools they were impeding traffic.
I want to stress that the people distributing these materials are not School District 72 employees or parents of children in our schools, nor are the materials that they are distributing endorsed by the school district in any way.
We have notified all school principals and our RCMP liaison officer as to the possibility of similar occurrences. It must be clearly understood that schools are private property with public access. People entering school property and buildings must have connection to the school community and a legitimate reason for being there. We are also extremely concerned about unknown adults directly approaching children given the caution we teach children to have regarding strangers.
After hearing several submissions both for and against SOGI 123, our Board of Education at their May 8 public meeting voted unanimously to continue to support inclusive and safe educational environments for all students by implementing the Ministry of Education’s sexual orientation and gender identity directives, including the use of SOGI 123 resources.
This board, as well as previous boards, is committed to honouring diversity and ensuring a culture of inclusion. This includes gender identity and sexual orientation as guaranteed under the BC Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
While the school district respects the democratic rights of those who disagree with this decision to express their views, they must respect trespassing laws, the rights of children to not be approached by adults that they do not know, and the rights of other parents and families to have their own beliefs as well.
Should parents have questions or concerns about something at your child’s school, whether it is related to the instruction they are receiving, health and safety issues, or discipline, we encourage parents to talk to your child’s teacher and/or the school principal.
Thomas G.S. Longridge
Superintendent of Schools, School District 72