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Outburst during SOGI presentation halts Prince George school board meeting

The PGDTA president's call for board support for SOGI programming was interrupted

The School District No. 57 (SD57) board meeting was momentarily brought to a halt when members of the public shouted from the gallery following a presentation on the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) program in schools.

Prince George District Teachers’ Association President Daryl Beauregard was speaking about the importance of the SOGI program to students and staff when he was interrupted by exclamations from the gallery.

After unsuccessfully calling for a point of order, the individuals continued to speak out of turn, and board chair Rachael Weber was forced to recess the meeting and clear the public and media out of the room.

In his presentation, Beauregard was asking the board to take action and be vocal about supporting anti-discrimination.

“Safety and belonging for all students is, a fragile thing. It is not something we can take for granted and it is not something we can be passive about,” he said.

Beauregard noted an instance where members of the public followed several district employees to their cars following a board meeting and harassed them. He also referenced a banner that was recently hung on the cutbanks displaying a message that attacked gender inclusive education.

“We have a lot of work to do to protect the safety of staff and students and we need support from the board as you are the leaders of the district.”

Beauregard pointed to aggressive opposition to SOGI programing in Canada that is spread online, and referenced anti-SOGI groups like Parents Voice and Action for Canada who have been organizing a presence in civic elections.

He asked the board to take similar action to the school board in Vernon who banned Action for Canada from presenting for a minimum of one year, and Chilliwack who banned the group indefinitely.

When Beauregard suggested the board could make it known that anti-SOGI and anti-inclusion candidates should be discouraged from running in the upcoming byelection, members of the public shouted “that’s undemocratic!” and called Beauregard “a dictator”.

Despite the conclusion of Beauregard’s presentation being met with applause from the gallery, the individual continued to shout that, “This whole SOGI thing is division. You are dividing the kids. You are causing divisiveness in this country.”

Weber then asked everyone in the room to leave as the board recessed for approximately five minutes. The meeting then continued on without interruption. 

Remarkably, no one signed-up to give public comments during the allotted time following the final adjournment of the meeting.

“The public is concerned, and they are coming with comments and, unfortunately, he chose the wrong opportunity and if he had waited for the public comments, he would have had more than enough time to express his concerns,” said Weber, following the conclusion of the meeting.

When asked whether or not she supported SOGI programing, Weber said “the board is behind providing a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.”

She said the board stands beside, and behind, and for policies and procedures that provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students to learn.

In terms of discouraging extremist groups from running in the upcoming by-election, Weber said the board does not endorse anything.

“We are elected officials we are not going to endorse or support anything. It is the communities that will go out and vote, and they will vote for the best people they think are the right people and the best people for the positions.”