SURREY — The Surrey School District has denied a group called Parents United Canada the right to rent the Bell Performing Arts Centre for a rally next month to inform parents about efforts to stop a curriculum program called SOGI 123.
The program, according to sogieducation.org, “equips educators of all backgrounds and experiences with tools and resources for supporting marginalized LGBTQ students and for creating safer and more inclusive school environments for all students.”
Kari Simpson, president of a group called Culture Guard, says teachers are being told to not to refer to boys as boys and girls as girls “because they can be anything they want and everything in between.”
She called it an abuse of the public education system, and a “political program, brainwashing students” from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
“Teachers are also told not to use the terms ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ anymore,” Simpson recently told the Now-Leader. “They circumvented parental notification.”
Simpson said her group was expecting an overflow crowd at the Bell Centre for the Nov. 22nd rally.
That was until Friday.
“The Surrey school board has denied our rental of the Bell Centre, and they just informed us today, saying that it doesn’t fit with their policies,” Simpson told the Now-Leader. “My understanding it was the superintendent himself that was responsible for conveying the message to the manager of the Bell Centre.
“We also have it in writing that this is the case but there’s no specifics as to exactly what policy we are contravening so my lawyers are putting together a letter right now. You cannot discriminate against a group just because you don’t agree with them, whether it be politically, or ideologically or anything else, and deny them a service. The BC Human Rights Code prohibits that kind of descriminatory practice.”
Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan said Friday the district has a policy that it can deny use of a facility if there are “reasonable grounds to believe” it could lead to a “protest,” adding there’s indication that that could happen.
Strachan said the district’s concern is about liability for potential damage.
The Now-Leader obtained a letter from Simpson to her organization, from Steven Goodman, manager of the Bell Performing Arts Centre, that reads: “Thank you for your interest in booking the Bell Performing Arts Centre for your meeting. As explained on the phone, the Executive Committee of the Surrey School District has determined that this event does not align with the policies of the Surrey School District. Your rental request has been denied on this basis.”
Simpson said the organization is now looking for a venue that can accommodate up to 15,000 people for a rally. She said her group is planning to file a request for an injunction “probably within the next two weeks” aiming to stop SOGI 123.
“It’s political suicide to piss off the parents,” Simpson said. “I have never seen anything like this,” she said, speaking about opposition to the school program.
“I think it’s the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back.”