The fact that all 60 public school districts have joined the BC Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Educator Network is another victory in the effort to make schools safe and inclusive for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI), CUPE 15 President Warren Williams said at an event marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
“CUPE is pleased to be on board for this very important SOGI 123 initiative with the province and other education and community stakeholders,” Williams said of a collaborative agreement announced by BC Education Minister Rob Fleming. “It is important that students are able to attend safe, inclusive schools. They should never feel ‘less than.’”
At a signing ceremony emceed by BC NDP MLA Mabel Elmore, Fleming said the agreement celebrates the positive impacts of SOGI-inclusive education.
“SOGI-inclusive education helps save lives, by respecting and honouring the differences of each student, in schools that are free of discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation and violence,” he said.
“No student should be excluded or bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, which is why we and our partners share a belief in the power of SOGI 123. It is creating awareness, affirming human rights and helping to fight discrimination in BC schools.”
Representatives of BC’s K-12 education partners groups formed a new Provincial K-12 SOGI Collaborative to support students of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. They will outline a 3-year plan to “create learning environments that are safe, acceptable, respectful and welcoming for all BC students.”
They will identify, support, and provide advice on a variety of projects, support the development of new SOGI resources, offer professional development and training opportunities, and share information on best practices between schools and districts for the benefit of all BC students.
Williams, in his capacity as K-12 Presidents Council president, signed the collaborative agreement on CUPE’s behalf.
SOGI – a resource that provides schools with ready-to-use, grade-level appropriate materials that align with BC’s new curriculum – was developed by the ARC Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, BCTF, CUPE and other provincial K-12 education partners, UBC’s faculty of education, school districts and LGBTQ2+ community organizations.
Visit the CUPE BC gallery to view photos.