An important conversation

The fact the Langley school board’s decision to introduce SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) studies into the local public school curriculum was met with such an immediate and intense reaction should not come as a shock.

Even less surprising was the number of comments generated by our story — specifically toward a group of Langley parents who spoke out in opposition to the policy.

As topics go, sexual orientation and gender identity are still relatively new to the public discourse.

It was something spoken about only in whispers, even 20 years ago.

This, and the fact it is an issue that touches deeply on who we are as human beings — and the core values we are taught — makes it incredibly divisive.

As with most difficult topics — race relations and abortion are two others that spring readily to mind — we will likely never get to a point where we can all agree 100 per cent.

But that doesn’t mean the conversation shouldn’t start.

Because we fear what we do not understand, only a frank discussion can promote understanding and empathy among those who are open to hearing — and truly considering — an opposing point of view.

For starting that conversation, Langley school trustees are to be commended.

An important part of their job is to protect students — all students — from hate speech, discrimination and physical harm.

While the parents who spoke out in opposition to the curriculum aren’t endorsing bullying or physical violence, the first-person accounts we’ve received from gay students who have been through the school system, show us that this is still the sad reality.

That said, parents need and deserve to be included in these conversations. What they choose to teach their own children at home is up to them.

But as a society, we have to move forward, and part of that is acknowledging our differences and respecting one another because — not in spite — of them.