Thousands took to the streets Canada-wide to demonstrate their opposition and support for imparting SOGI 123 curriculum in Canadian schools.
SOGI 123 stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. According to SOGI website, “SOGI-inclusive education is about students having conversations about the SOGI diversity in society and the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect.”
Anti-SOGI protests were organized under banner 1 Million March 4 Children, advocating for the elimination of SOGI curriculum in schools. They termed SOGI-inclusive education policies, as “the sexualization and indoctrination of our children in schools.”
There is no specific SOGI curriculum in B.C., however K-12 students have subjects around human rights, respecting diversity, and responding to discrimination.
Politicians, public figures, and education boards across the country released statements condemning the protests as being hateful and permissive of violence against LGBTQIA+ people.
According to the 1 Million March 4 Children the protests were not “targeted at specific communities”, it is for the preservation of children’s health and well-being, and the preservation of parental rights and duty. “It is against secret social transition and sexual exploitation of children in schools through adult themes and materials, and against the medical transitioning of children in Canada.”
To support LGBTQ2S+ communities, counter-protests were planned in every province across the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his support for LGBTQ people across Canada, via a statement on X, the former Twitter. “We strongly condemn this hate and its manifestations,” wrote Trudeau, who was in New York to speak at the UN Climate Ambition Summit.
In response to news of hate-fuelled marches planned in cities and towns across B.C. for Sept. 20, 2023, Commissioner Kasari Govender said in a statement, “The right to peaceful demonstration is an important tool to protect our democracy and generate debate. But as Human Rights Commissioner, I want to be very clear: the human rights of trans and LGBTQ2SAI+ people are not up for debate.
Denying the existence of trans and gender diverse people—including calls to erase trans and LGBTQ2SAI+ people from our province’s curricula—is hate, and hate should have no place in our community or in our schools. Trans and LGBTQ2SAI+ people don’t just have a right to exist—they have a right to thrive, to be loved and to have their human dignity recognized, represented and respected, as we all do.”
Alex Sangha, founder of Sher Vancouver, an organization working to create awareness about LGBTQ2SAI+, said, “I find it deeply disheartening that some members of my own Punjabi Sikh community are actively opposing LGBTQ rights, education on LGBTQ matters, and human rights in the context of SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity). Transgender people have especially been under constant attack for trying to be true to themselves. Similarly, these anti-LGBTQ+ protesters are also critical of initiatives like Drag Queen Story Time, which, in my view, fosters a sense of inclusivity and allows individuals to embrace the diversity of human experiences.”
As Sikhs, it is incumbent upon us to champion the rights of those who are vulnerable, marginalized, or oppressed. “We must recognize that we are all equal in the eyes of a higher authority, and no one should assume the role of judging the creations of that divine force. I firmly believe that God does not desire suffering for any of his children, and it is our duty to ensure that everyone is treated with respect, compassion, and dignity,” he said.