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Saturday’s anti-SOGI protest in Surrey was a missed opportunity to educate, says Surrey teacher

Two groups of protesters clashed at 120th and 72 Ave in Surrey
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Annie Ohana, a teacher at L.A. Matheson Secondary, said Saturday’s rally was a missed opportunity to educate people on SOGI (File Photo: Lauren Collins)

A large crowd of protesters and counter-protestors gathered in the pouring rain in Surrey Saturday afternoon. The two groups were in disagreement about the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) curriculum used in B.C. schools.

Annie Ohana, an educator at L.A. Matheson in Surrey passed by the rally and said it was a missed opportunity to educate people on SOGI. Ohana feels there is a misunderstanding of what SOGI actually is.

As an educator with degrees in criminology, political science and education Ohana has in-depth knowledge of the SOGI curriculum.

“I really do feel that there’s really a misunderstanding of what we are teaching in our schools,” Ohana said.

Ohana said she is always willing to talk with parents about any concerns they may have about the curriculum. She added that all of the books they use in the SOGI curriculum are vetted and age-appropriate.

“As teachers, we’re not there to indoctrinate anybody. If kids and parents have values that are different we will do what we can to make sure that those kids are safe.”

“But at the end of the day, human rights prevail, as a teacher, I have to follow the Human Rights Code and in B.C. in Canada, that includes gender identity and sexual orientation”

Ohana said there are lots of great resources available for parents to see what the curriculum is all about.

Ohana is also on the board of Sher Vancouver. A non-profit for queer South Asians, their family and friends.

Ohana empathized with the hurt the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community feels and understood the anger that was seen at Saturday’s rally. At times the counter-protestors could be heard yelling over the other group. The dozen police officers that were there stepped in at these moments to separate the two groups.

A group of counter-protesters from the group Community Over Convoys showed up to show support for the SOGI curriculum and LGBTQ+ individuals on 120 Street and 72 Ave in Surrey on Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Photo: Anna Burns)
A group of counter-protesters from the group Community Over Convoys showed up to show support for the SOGI curriculum and LGBTQ+ individuals on 120 Street and 72 Ave in Surrey on Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Photo: Anna Burns)

Ohana felt that neither side really heard one other. Instead of a small group gathering together for respectful dialogue, “there we are standing in the rain, just scream at each other,” Ohana added.

Amrit Birring, leader of the Freedom Party of British Columbia, was leading the group protesting SOGI.

A woman from the Freedom Party of British Columbia group holds up a “NO SOGI” sign at a rally against the SOGI curriculum in B.C. schools on 120 Street and 72 Ave in Surrey on Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Photo: Anna Burns)
A woman from the Freedom Party of British Columbia group holds up a “NO SOGI” sign at a rally against the SOGI curriculum in B.C. schools on 120 Street and 72 Ave in Surrey on Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Photo: Anna Burns)

“School is a place for children to learn academics, cultural activities, and sports activities,” Birring said. “Children should not be weaponized to carry out special agendas.”

The counter-protests were led by the group community over convoys. Steph, a representative from the group said they showed up in support of the SOGI curriculum and trans children.

“We all deserve to celebrate our difference,” Steph said. Education plays a role in that.



anna.burns@surreynowleader.com

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Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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