KELOWNA, BC – A new billboard in West Kelowna creates a safety issue for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, prompting Advocacy Canada to petition for its removal.
The billboard, installed Feb. 4 near Boucherie Road, depicts a caricature of an apparent teacher standing in front of a Progress Pride flag, with text that reads: What are your kids REALLY learning in school?
“By linking the message to sexual orientation and gender identity, this billboard moves from free speech to discrimination,” states Wilbur Turner, Chair of Advocacy Canada.
“It essentially vilifies a symbol of pride for a marginalized community, which is not only shocking in 2023 but dangerous.”
Hate crimes against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are on the rise in both Canada and the United States, with the most recent numbers from Statistics Canada showing a 64% year-over-year increase.
Further, the billboard drives to a website referencing non-evidence-based ideas and opinions around a ‘hidden curriculum’ in schools and ‘indoctrination’ of children, in part referencing SOGI 123 (Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities 1-Policy and Procedures 2-Inclusive Environments 3-Teaching Resources) in schools.
“This messaging about school curriculums in British Columbia has been a common thread among anti-SOGI 123 activists attempting to disrupt school boards across Canada,” states Turner.
SOGI 123 is not a curriculum but rather a model for inclusivity. It was developed in consultation with educators and parents, and endorsed by the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. It was developed to reduce discrimination in schools, according to the ARC Foundation.
“Children who are transgender, gender diverse, non-binary, gay or lesbian should not have to fight for their existence. The arguments presented by this billboard and its website are not evidence-based and do not represent the majority of Canadians,” according to Turner.
Studies show that having SOGI-specific anti-bullying policies improves the school climate for 2SLGBTQIA+ and heterosexual students, reducing discrimination, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts for all students.
The billboard is leased from Billboards BC and installed on Westbank First Nation land.
ARC Foundation – SOGI 123
Anti-Bullying Policies – BC Government Education and Child Care
School-based interventions to reduce health disparities among LGBTQ youth – McCreary Centre Society
2011 Egale National Climate Survey on Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in Canadian Schools
About Advocacy Canada
Advocacy-Canada.lgbt is a Kelowna-based non-profit organization with a mission to unite and amplify queer voices and their allies in the community to effect positive change on important issues that make a lasting difference.
For media inquiries please contact Wilbur Turner
Email: [email protected]