Opposing rallies in Vancouver Monday. (Kat Slepian photos)

EDITORIAL: Speaking out for sexual identities

Both sides of SOGI debate for B.C. schools show signs of bravery, but not all are heroic

Heroes come in all sizes.

If that basic truth didn’t register before, it should this week after nine-year-old Michael Boyd – a third-grader at Surrey’s Walnut Road Elementary – made the decision at the scene of two competing rallies in Vancouver Monday to offer himself up as a veritable poster child for the pro-SOGI 123 movement.

Of course, it shouldn’t really matter what side of the argument you fall on to see strength of character in Michael’s actions. Regardless of whether you are for or against the pilot project that aims to create inclusive classrooms for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities, you can applaud a child for being willing to reveal a most personal side of his own identity to fight for an issue that affects him and others personally.

Public opponents of the provincial SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) education program certainly show their strength of character in their own ways, allowing themselves to be labelled intolerant, homophobic and arguably worse by those who can’t comprehend what drives them to speak out on an issue that appears not to affect their own lifestyles. Indeed, one can only assume that they, too, are doing what they know to be right.

However, while proclaiming one’s opinion on an issue may get it heard, getting it understood can be an entirely different matter.

SEE: Conservative Langley activist opposes LGBTQ education project

SEE: Opponents of LGBTQ program to file human rights complaint against Surrey School District

In Michael’s case, his point is clear. He wants to be able to live his life as he sees himself in a safe, comfortable, welcoming environment – and he wants others to be able to do so, too.

The reason SOGI opponents protest is not as clear. They seem to believe that because society has in the past promoted and accepted two genders, that’s all there should be, now and forever more. If there’s more to their argument, handmade signs that spout such slogans as “God created man & woman” and “Stop child abuse by the Ministry of Education” don’t really make it understood, while printed signs like “Parents have rights” and “Don’t mess with our children” could certainly be proclaimed by all sides.

If the motivation of anti-SOGI protesters is merely faith-driven, it limits the number of people they will convince. If it is based on more than that, they owe it to those whom they publicly criticize to explain their objections.

While marching publicly and holding up signs may be considered brave, only those who do so with pure heart should be considered heroes.

Peace Arch News

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Surrey student Michael Boyd, with his grandmother Susan Thomas. (Kat Slepian photo)

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