Question from from S.B. submitted to my email firstname.lastname@example.org :
I read your statement on the north van elections website, and just have one question for you: Are you for the SOGI curriculum or against it?
(SOGI – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)
I favour inclusivity, tolerance and mutual respect. Our society is diverse and every child should feel safe and welcome in schools. Misinformation has been circulated about SOGI but I believe it is a well-intentioned effort to improve children’s experiences and understanding of the world we live in. Much better than pretending all people must follow the same narrow path. I am more interested in the quality of a young person’s character than his or her choices in matters of love and attraction.
I support Minister of Education Rob Fleming’s commitment to ensure “every school — both public and independent — is a place where students feel safe, accepted, respected and welcome regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background.”
The Education Ministry reports:
Studies show that having SOGI-specific anti-bullying policies improves the school climate for LGBTQ and heterosexual students, reducing discrimination, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts for all students.
In its document Better Schools for BC, the BC Federation of Teachers states:
Equity is a keystone of our democratic tradition, and teachers believe passionately that it is our professional duty to advocate for the equal right of every student to learn to her or his fullest ability.
This means we need to build schools where everyone feels welcomed and respected. Children must feel safe and secure, nourished and challenged, healthy and confident so they can take their place as active citizens in a modern democratic society…
Frankly, I fail to understand why any principled person would argue that our schools should not meet these standards.
Teachers can adapt or adopt SOGI 1 2 3 lesson plans to meet the needs of their classrooms. Or they can choose to not employ the plans. The following is a SOGI lesson plan aimed at all ages of students:
Why “That’s so gay” is NOT okay
This lesson demystifies the word “gay” and challenges misunderstandings of the word while making it clear that the word “gay” should never be used as an insult. It will encourage students to speak out and be an upstander when they hear homophobic comments.
- Social Responsibility – Valuing Diversity. Students value diversity, defend human rights, advocate for others, and act with a sense of ethics in interactions, including online.
First Peoples Principles of Learning:
- Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place)
- Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions
- Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story
- Learning requires exploration of one’s identity
Teaching Strategies and Questions
- What is an insult?
- What is a compliment?
Define each and then ask for some examples of insults and compliments.
Who knows what the word gay means? (definition: a man who is romantically attracted to another man, or a woman who is romantically attracted to another woman. Students might also know the word lesbian, which is only for 2 women who are romantically attracted to other women).
Some students may say gay means “happy”. This is true in old literature and Christmas carols. Currently, it is used correctly, or as an insult.
- Who has ever heard “gay” used as a compliment?
- Who has heard it used as an insult?
When gay is used as an insult, is the person using a word that actually explain what they are trying to say? (“That soccer game was so gay”, but they actually mean that soccer game was dumb, frustrating, annoying, I didn’t like it).
- Why is it important to use words properly, according to their meaning?
- When the word “gay” is used as an insult, who does it affect?
- Anyone around who is gay
- Someone who has two moms or two dads (parents are gay)
- Anyone around who knows someone who is gay
- Anyone around who has a friend, family member or someone they care about who is gay
- Anyone who believes that all people need to be respected and accepted for who they are
Is there anything wrong with the word “gay”? No, not when it is used properly.
Reinforce that in our school there is no tolerance for any form of discrimination. We believe that all students, staff and community members should be treated with respect. Homophobic comments like “that’s so gay” will not be tolerated.
Be an upstander, instead of a bystander, let other know that “gay” should never be used as an insult.
This is another lesson plan. It is aimed at grades eight, nine and ten, typically ages 13-15:
Lesson Plan: Social Justice Vocabulary
(from Making Space: Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice Throughout the K-12 Curriculum)
ELA 8/9 – Big Idea – Exploring stories and other texts helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others and to the world.
ELA 10 – Big Idea – The exploration of text and story deepens our understanding of diverse, complex ideas about identity, others and the world.
ELA 8/9/10 – Curricular Competency – Recognize and identify the role of personal, social, and cultural contexts, values, and perspectives in texts
ELA 10 – Curricular Competency – Recognize how language constructs personal, social and cultural identity
Social Justice 12 – Curricular Competency – Use Social Studies inquiry processes and skills to ask questions; gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions
Content – various theoretical frameworks, interpretations, and concepts of social justice
This lesson will explore language and vocabulary related to social justice issues, and will help students to examine connections between various forms of oppression and discrimination.
Teaching Strategies and Questions
Assign one of the following sets of terms to each student, ensuring equal distribution of each set across the class:
• Social justice, human rights
• Equity, equality, fairness
• Sexism/sexist, feminism/feminist, misogynist/misogyny
• Racism/racist, cultural imperialism, genocide
• Anti-Semitism, anti-Islam, anti-Christian, anti-faith
• Stereotype, discrimination, oppression
• Heterosexism/heterosexist, homophobia/homophobic.
• Gender normative, cisgender, transphobia/transphobic
Have students take a few moments to record their current understanding of their assigned terms. Then have them independently research definitions and usage of these terms in a variety of print and online sources. Students should try to identify several different usages in different media types and sources, including instances where they think the term is used incorrectly.
Have students form groups with others who have researched the same terms to share and discuss their findings. Encourage them to consider questions such as the following:
• How has your understanding of these terms changed as a result of your research?
• Are the terms used differently by different types of media stories? If so, how? Can you make connections between the author of the message and how they use the terms?
Provide an opportunity for each group to share their terms and definitions to the rest of the class. Summarize by discussing as a class:
• What other terminology related to social justice did you find during your research?
• Were there instances where you didn’t find a term used where you thought it should be? Why might that be? (e.g., Is a racist, sexist, or homophobic/transphobic rant likely to identify itself as racist, sexist, or homophobic/transphobic?)
• How does our understanding of these terms evolve over time? Which terms would you expect to find or not find in articles and dictionaries from 20 years ago? 50 years ago?
• How does media usage of these terms affect the public understanding of social justice issues?