New sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) funding will help expand the annual provincial SOGI Education Summit, with a focus on increasing the participation of youth, parents and Indigenous partners.
“By committing to improving SOGI-inclusive education in B.C. schools, we are helping students understand and respect their differences, something that will serve them today and in the future,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “We are continuing to work with students and our education partners to create learning environments that are safe, acceptable, respectful and welcoming for all.”
The new funding of $350,000 will be used in part to enhance the SOGI Education Summit, presented by the ministry and the ARC Foundation, which has been a lead partner in the creation of the SOGI 123 curriculum resource. Held for the last two years, the summit brings together representatives of school districts and independent schools that are participating in the B.C. SOGI Educator Network. The event provides an opportunity for SOGI leads to learn about new approaches and resources, share successes and challenges, and provide input to help inform provincial initiatives.
At this year’s summit, being held in Richmond in October, student voices and Indigenous perspectives will be integrated with the priority focus areas identified by the new Provincial K-12 SOGI Collaborative. With increased participation from youth, parents and Indigenous partners, this year’s summit will help to identify issues and opportunities that can inform priority actions for student voice and Indigenous SOGI supports for the next couple of years.
“We’re incredibly pleased to be growing our partnership with the Ministry of Education in such a meaningful way, and are grateful to Minister Fleming for his leadership,” said Brad Beattie, executive director of the ARC Foundation. “This new funding will allow us to continue to work with school districts, education partners and community organizations around the province to ensure that B.C. schools are inclusive places where all students are free to live their best possible lives.”
The new funding is also being used for a provincial SOGI education lead position to provide training, resources and supports to school districts and independent schools. As well, the funding will support the development of provincial guidelines for SOGI-inclusive education in B.C. K-12 schools and provide facilitation and secretariat support for the Provincial K-12 SOGI Collaborative.
“I believe in SOGI-inclusive communities because it’s vital for young people to be free from discrimination and bullying,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “All students deserve to feel welcomed, included and respected in a safe learning environment, and our government is happy to collaborate on all levels to prioritize the mental health and safety of B.C.’s students.”
In May, the ministry announced that all 60 school districts and several independent schools have joined the B.C. SOGI Educator Network to further help educators make schools safe and inclusive for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The ministry also announced that the Province and 11 education and community partner groups have formed a new Provincial K-12 SOGI Collaborative, officially committing to creating learning environments that are safe, acceptable, respectful and welcoming for all B.C. students.