Prince George mom Jaime Moore said she felt empowered as a parent after attending Wednesday’s protest against the K-12 school system in B.C. that teaches students Sexual Orientation and Gender Ideology (SOGI).
Moore pulled her children, Caia and Lincoln Wood, out of their elementary school classes so they could attend the rally at Prince George city hall and together with some of their young friends they stayed for the noon-hour march of about 100 flag-waving people, which wrapped up the event.
“I’d like to have a say in what my children do and I didn’t want my parental rights taken from us and I don’t believe in what they’re teaching them in the school system. It’s wrong and it’s unacceptable,” said Moore.
“They should not be sexualizing young children, it’s inappropriate. The books that are out there in some of the schools, teaching them about oral sex and masturbation. Kids are very confused and they don’t need to be learning that stuff. Furthermore, it’s not their job to be teaching our children about sexual education. Keep it to the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s. There are things that should not be taught in school.”
The protest was part of the Canada-wide 1 Million March 4 Children movement, which organized similar rallies across the country to protest schools promoting LBGTQ rights, gender ideology, the idea of mixed-gender bathrooms in schools and students using identifying pronouns of their choice.
Pro-SOGI signs posted on poles read No Space For Hate but Moore said the intent of the protest and the motivation of the speakers who got behind the mic was never to make anyone feel hated or uncomfortable about own sexual identity.
“It’s not about hate, it’s all about love,” said Moore. “I have gay family members and that’s what’s sad about this whole protest thing is them thinking it’s against them, when it should be our rights to teach our children and let kids be kids. They are going to learn it eventually but that’s our job to teach them, not the school’s job. It was such a positive protest and such good feeling to be out there standing up for my children because if we don’t stand up for our children nobody else is going to do that.”
Jessica Fowlie, a Grade 11 student at College Heights Secondary School, skipped her morning classes so she could attend the rally. She said teachers at her school are bound by the system to teach inclusivity. She has no problem with students having their rights as individuals protected and supported but she’s against being forced to agree with their lifestyle choices as they apply to sexuality and gender identity.
“I understand there are people in my school who have different beliefs than me but I don’t want them forcing their beliefs on me when I don’t agree with them,” Fowlie said. “Obviously I will respect them, I just don’t want them to be telling me I have to change who I am to accommodate them. I think the kids are really nice and understanding and respectful towards others, I think it’s just the teachers themselves who make it a bit harder to be in that school, being a religious person.”
Fowlie says she understands why people in the LGBTQ community feel threatened and might be uncomfortable expressing their true identities and she just wants them to know they should not feel that way.
“I just want people to feel like they belong,” she said. “They are so loved. They have different beliefs than us, obviously, so we’re not going to tell them that they’re wrong. We just don’t want them to tell us that we’re wrong.”
Jessica’s mother, Carol, who has three other children in the school system, worries her right to have a say in what they are being taught is being eroded.
“I’m seeing more and more where parents aren’t getting as much freedom to still have their own cultural beliefs, whatever they are, to teach their kids, and the division is happening in the school system,” said Carol Fowlie. “There are ideologies being pushed in the system, things that are being legislated versus parental values.
“When I see a form come home from school where parents are expected to sign off and say that they’re going to behave on the football field and yet they’re being told they’re not part of the conversation about a person wanting to switch genders, it seems like there’s a misunderstanding where parents should be involved and where they shouldn’t.”
She says schools should focus more on teaching her kids math, English and other academic skill sets and leave it up to families and the community to guide students on cultural nuances and lifestyle choices.
“Discrimination has come into the school system the more we stick labels on people,” she said. “Even the concept of skin colour, I don’t think that’s appropriate either. I didn’t grow up having to pay attention to whether a person was Asian or Indigenous or whatever, I had people they were my friends and I didn’t care about skin colour. Now I have to make decisions about whether I use the right word in a sentence because I might hurt their feelings.”