Rally spreads SOGI love

On Sunday morning, supporters of an inclusive LGBTQ resource in schools stood up for their beliefs at a rally in Burnaby at the public library. 

SOGI, which stands for sexual orientation and gender identity, has become a hot-button topic in the upcoming civic election. Students, parents and teachers alike gathered Sunday to show their support for education surrounding these topics in schools.

Katie Marsh, the event's organizer, is also a teacher and a parent.

“I wish that the acceptance of LGBTQ2S+ was just a given. I wish that everybody agreed they exist and that they deserve support,” she told CTV.

SOGI 123, as the program is called, has been a controversial topic in the school board race in Burnaby and districts around B.C. 

A meeting in early October turned into a shouting match when anti-SOGI candidates became involved in a disruption in Burnaby.

And in Vancouver this past week, Vancouver 1st posted a video of its mayoral candidate Fred Harding denouncing SOGI 123. Tony Dong, a previous Vancouver 1st council candidate, left the party following the incident, and is now running as an independent. 

Marsh said that opponents to the SOGI programming won't do anything to stop its momentum. 

"It’s not something that’s up for debate,” she said. “It’s not something that is going to be stopped because there’s a vocal group of opposition. It’s a thing that we’re doing, in the same way that math is a thing that we’re doing and social studies is a thing that we’re doing.”

Students also spoke up in defence of SOGI. 

"It’s easier to understand what they’re going through and to encourage them and help them along the way,” 8th-grader Chandon Sidhu explained, speaking about her LGBTQ classmates. 

Her 12-year-old brother, Jagger, said before SOGI 123, “a lot of kids in my school used [to tease others] ‘oh, you’re gay’…but now not so many people are doing it.”

The program encourages openness and respect for everyone in the classroom, regardless of sexual orientation. 

-With files from CTV Vancouver

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