To the Editor:
My husband and I drove through 100 Mile House last Wednesday, and we saw a small but boisterous group of critics of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity curriculum in schools. We also saw the bravest man.
He was standing on the same street, about 50 metres from the group, he stood by himself with a sign that simply said- SUPPORT TRANS RIGHTS. He was silent, courageous, and stood with great dignity. When we waved our support, he gave us a nod and smile. He didn’t look like your average protester, more like some guy finishing his shift and felt he had to be there. My husband and I deeply regret not stopping and standing in solidarity with him. There’s one word I have for him: RESPECT.
I have been a public-school teacher for over 20 years, and I once calculated that I have taught over 4,800 students in my career. With that experience, I know these things to be true:
1. Teachers know children well. They get to know a lot of students and spend a lot of time with them.
2. In general teachers are a cautious group of people. Teachers mostly shy away from controversy and strong opinions.
3. Teachers are supportive of human rights for all students and the SOGI education that is part of their mandated BC Ministry of Education curriculum.
4. The mental health and well-being of students is paramount in their role as teachers.
All this begs the question: Why do BC teachers support human rights for all students and therefore SOGI education? Because teachers know young people, and they have seen countless students suffer or prosper, depending on how they are seen and treated by others.
I wish those anti-SOGI protesters realized that teachers strive to meet the needs of all students; we don’t have time for “grooming” or the extra energy to encourage students to question their gender or sexuality. Teachers meet students where they are at, we strive to make them feel safe and accepted so that they are in the right frame of mind to learn. The anti-SOGI education protesters I saw in 100 Mile House were not people that students would have felt comfortable and safe around.
I believe that one man on the sidewalk, asking us to support trans-rights, represents most Canadians. I believe this because in general Canadians believe in kindness and the value of human rights, in particular those of children. That man in 100 Mile House is a powerful role model worthy of celebration. It would have been an honour to meet him and stand with him. Students across British Columbia need more people like him to stand up when they see hate. We must add our voices to support all children, and all human rights.