An Oak Bay pastor is one of hundreds of Christian leaders coming out in favour of SOGI, signing a petition and delivering it to education minister Rob Fleming.
Rev. Michelle Slater, a pastor and parent of a 9-year-old son, felt compelled to speak publicly on the issue, because the church has “so much to repent for” particularly in the ways it has contributed to the “discrimination and marginalization of LGBTQ people.”
“It’s time to raise our voices and say that this is not the only Christian interpretation and we refuse to let this, or any group claim the name Christian,” she said referring to the West Coast Christian Accord, a group of Christian leaders who have banded together in protest of SOGI.
All 60 school districts in B.C. have adopted SOGI – sexual orientation, gender identity – a free online resource tool available to teachers province-wide who can choose to use it to inform every day learning in classrooms.
It is not a mandatory curriculum, and it is not sexual education.
Those opposed to SOGI, Slater said, believe implementing these tools will be of harm: “But they’re profoundly mistaken and not paying attention to actual evidence.”
Some 200 anti-SOGI religious leaders also sent a petition to Minister Fleming asking the province to pull SOGI from schools, saying it “contradicts the Christian truths, disrespects Charter values, and is harmful to school children, their parents, school teachers, and society as a whole.”
For Slater, the frustrating part is watching as the term Christianity is co-opted, designing different values and principles based on different interpretations of the same bible.
Part of this is a pushback against the loss of Christianity as the dominant culture, she said.
“When we’ve been dominant, we’ve done tremendously harmful things,” she said, pointing to the residential school system and persecution of LGBTQ people.
Members of the Oak Bay United Church congregation are transgender, or are the parents of transgender kids, Slater said, and many participated in a SOGI rally at the B.C. legislature Sept. 29.
In her son’s Montessori school, Slater said nothing much has changed now that SOGI has been adopted, except that students learn in an open and inclusive environment that respects them, and their families.
“I can’t understand an argument against treating people with basic respect,” she said, adding that includes honouring someone’s gender identity and pronouns.
“Our schools should not only be places of safety, but places where we learn together how to honour the differences and gifts of each person,” she said.
Black Press Media reached out to multiple members of the West Coast Christian Accord and did not receive a response before deadline.