Letter: Conversation about inclusion must go beyond SOGI parameters

Editor: SOGI continues to be a topic of debate in and outside of schools and there are good people on both sides of the debate. On many occasions during the last few weeks, I have been asked if I support SOGI and my answer is always the same – I do, yes, and I do not.

As a parent, a teacher and educator, I support any anti-bulling program. I was bullied myself at school and I despise any type of bullying against any person no matter who they are or what they believe, therefore I support a program like SOGI that seeks to end bullying.

Where I do not support SOGI is in its very narrow view of diversity and discrimination.

SOGI is aimed at making schools inclusive and safe for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

This is important, however, there are many other students in schools who also do not feel fully included, do not feel completely safe and experience discrimination. These people include indigenous students, students with special needs, religious students, and those struggling with mental health issues.

Therefore, SOGI needs to be far more diverse and inclusive of these people. It must include making school safe for all people and not just some.

This is what I also suggest for schools. As educators, we must keep in mind that there will always be a diversity of moral standpoints on moral issues like sexuality, marriage, family and life.

Schools should emphasize their plurality and differences and that must mean that they respect the fact that students and parents, have their own particular moral visions and reasons; thus, schools and educators must be capable of listening across differences to discern the qualities present even in those with whom they disagree.

To disagree is a democratic virtue, and by listening to others with different perspectives, we can all benefit because we might learn something that we did not know before. I know I have.

We should be alert to issues of race, class and gender, yes indeed, but avoid tribalism, which is like stereotyping any one group of people in society with the same brush, thereby, ignoring differences between individuals.

Schools and educators are always teaching values and those who insist that they are opposed to the values of others usually means that they are opposed to values other than their own.

We must admit that all schooling indoctrinates, there is no such thing as a non-indoctrinating education. In fact, it is disingenuous to call any education non-indoctrinatory.

The point is that schools should and must be inherently indoctrinatory, but the question is will the indoctrination be overt or covert, what will be indoctrinated and most importantly, will all students and caregivers be permitted to add to the conversation of diversity and inclusion?

Matt Etherington,

Langley

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