Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School involved in SOGI pilot project

All 60 B.C. school districts participating in the B.C. SOGI Educator Network

From gay-straight alliances to educator networks – students of all sexual orientations and gender identities are receiving support for safer and more inclusive schools in British Columbia.

The B.C. Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities (SOGI) Educator Network started as a pilot project.

In just over two years, it has grown province-wide. All 60 B.C. school districts and several independent schools are participating in the B.C. SOGI Educator Network.

SOGI focuses on helping school districts and educators make schools safe and inclusive for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Currently, there are five students utilizing the gender and sexuality alliance support group at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School.

“I think kids need a safe space,” said Gay-straight Alliance (GSA) teacher sponsor, Lisa Dugaro. “Sometimes they don’t have that at home. Even if there isn’t a lot of overt bullying happening in our school, we see exclusion happening. This space offers them the opportunity to connect with their peers and talk about the issues they face.”

Some of those issues could be the process of coming out, life at home or instances of being bullied.

“They care and they support each other,” said Dugaro.

Even after multiple efforts for safer schools, some students are still facing discrimination. During the 2017-18 school year, the GSA had put up signs advertising the group – when and where to meet. A student stuck a “straight-pride” photo beside one of the posters.

“That instance was handled appropriately, but the students still felt offended,” said Dugaro.

Some of the students in the GSA have vocalized what it’s like living in a smaller community – finding it challenging to make friends or meet individuals who are alike.

RELATED: A safe space for gender support in the South Cariboo

In 100 Mile, there are other resources available, such as the Cariboo Gender Support group, which offers transgender people a safe space.

“Every meeting we are getting new people. We share ideas, resources and are building this support group that is for all ages,” said Chris Pettman, who founded the group along with his wife, Mikara.

Pettman and his wife are also involved with the high school’s GSA.

“Younger kids are the better advocates,” said Pettman. “They have more knowledge and they are bringing it to the table. It’s helping a lot of people understand the topics around the LGBTQI2S demographic.”

Supporting data

According to a national survey of Canadian high school students, 70 per cent of all participating students, LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ, reported hearing expressions such as “that’s so gay” every day in school and almost half, 40 per cent reported hearing remarks such as “faggot,” “lezbo,” and “dyke” every day in school.

Almost 10 per cent of LGBTQ students reported having heard homophobic comments from teachers daily or weekly (17 per cent of trans students, ten per cent of female sexual minority students and eight per cent of male sexual minority students). Even more, LGBTQ+ students reported that they had heard teachers use negative gender-related or transphobic comments daily or weekly – twenty-three per cent of trans students, fifteen per cent of male sexual minority students and twelve per cent of female sexual minority students.

Hardly any LGBTQ students reported that they never heard homophobic comments from other students (one per cent of trans students, two per cent of female sexual minority students and four per cent of male sexual minority students).

This suggests that if you are a sexual minority student in a Canadian school, it is highly likely that you will hear insulting things about your sexual orientation or gender identity.


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

RCMP urge Williams Lake residents to be cautious as suspect remains on the loose

Man seen speeding on Highway 97 fled from police after collided with RCMP vehicle

100 Mile’s longest-serving radio host continues to be off the air

Larry Rode is still recovering from a stroke

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

UPDATE: Williams Lake RCMP suspend search overnight for suspect on the run

Public asked to keep eye out for suspicous activity

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Most Read