Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan, left, and Kari Simpson, president of Culture Guard. (Photos: Now-Leader file)

Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan, left, and Kari Simpson, president of Culture Guard. (Photos: Now-Leader file)

Surrey School District refuses to rent Bell Centre for Parents United Canada rally

Group is seeking court injunction to stop an LGBTQ program in public schools

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.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Tom Jackson and bassist Kirby Barber in a trailer for "The Huron Carole," from video posted to youtube.com.
Tom Jackson’s ‘Huron Carole’ concert in White Rock goes virtual to feed hungry Canadians

Surrey broadcast date of Blue Frog-recorded show is Friday, Dec. 11, to benefit Surrey Food Bank

Pastry chef Eric Fernandez stands alongside some of his many creations at Popup Patisserie, a pop-up pastry shop on 176th Street that will be open until the end of December. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Popup Patisserie opens in Cloverdale

Handmade holiday pastries shop located on 176th Street

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
South Surrey woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Deb Antifaev

Fentanyl test strips are designed to work in seconds and give a person a negative or positive sign that fentanyl is present in a substance. It also works with other analogues such as carfentanil. (Photo: ASHLEY WADHWANI)
21 people died of overdoses in Surrey in October

Provincewide, more than five people died a day from overdoses

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Most Read