Message from Supt. Mark Pearmain: Understanding SOGI-inclusive education
Punjabi, Chinese and Arabic.
In recent months, there have been discussions and concerns regarding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) inclusive education. I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to families, address concerns, and provide clarity on this topic.
It's important to note that SOGI-inclusive education is not a separate curriculum; rather, it's part of a broader approach that encompasses various aspects of identity and inclusion. Its primary objective is to promote tolerance, respect, and understanding while reducing incidents of violence and discrimination against students and community members who identify as 2SLGBTQ+.
SOGI-inclusive education aligns seamlessly with our ongoing efforts to foster an inclusive environment, complementing district-wide initiatives in equity, including racial equity, Indigenous equity, and the inclusion of diverse abilities and needs throughout our district. It is meant to reinforce parents' efforts of teaching essential values of tolerance, respect, and acceptance of all people. This collaborative approach ensures that our children grow up with a deep appreciation for the diverse individuals who shape and enrich our society.
It’s also important to understand that SOGI-inclusive education is not centered on sexuality, nor does it seek to influence students' sexual orientation or gender identity. Our teachers, administrators, support staff and district staff deeply respect and value the unique individual identities of our students, and we work hard to create inclusive classroom and school environments.
And I want to stress that SOGI is a distinct and separate topic from sexual health education. SOGI-inclusive education fosters understanding, inclusivity, and support, addressing identity, respect, and belonging. Sexual health, within BC’s Physical and Health Education curriculum, focuses on biology, physiology, and reproduction, following specific provincial guidelines. Parents or caregivers, in consultation with their school, do have the option to arrange for alternative delivery for certain topics contained in the Physical and Health Education curriculum for K-10 students.
To ensure that our school communities are well-informed and to address common misconceptions, we have developed resources to provide accurate information about the purpose and impact of SOGI-inclusive education in our classrooms.
These resources include:
- Myths and Facts about SOGI-inclusive Education (available in Arabic, English, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish)
- Understanding SOGI-inclusive Resources: A Guide for Parents & Caregivers (available in Arabic, English, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish)
- What does SOGI-inclusive education look like in a secondary classroom? (available in Arabic, English, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish)
- What does SOGI-inclusive education look like in an elementary classroom? (available in Arabic, English, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish)
I encourage you to review these resources, and talk to your teacher, principal, or the district about any questions or concerns you may have.
We sincerely thank you for your continued support and partnership in creating a safe, welcoming, and respectful learning environment for our students.
Superintendent/CEO, Surrey Schools