Spencer speak on SOGI (SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY)

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Third Session, 41st Parliament (2018)

DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

Monday, NOVEMBER 26, 2018

Private Members’ Motions

MOTION 33

SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY POLICIES FOR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION SYSTEM

S. Chandra Herbert: Obviously, I speak in support of SOGI 123. Really, for those who don’t know it, it’s about making sure that our schools are safe for everybody, that if you’re lesbian, gay, bi, trans, questioning, whatever, we accept you and you are noticed. You are acknowledged. You are made visible.

Because for too long, there have been those, as I unfortunately seemed to hear in the last argument, making the argument that if we keep people invisible, they’ll be safer, that somehow if we don’t talk about gender identity, they’ll be safer. If we don’t talk about gay people, they’ll just realize they’re not gay, and they’ll think it’s a phase and move on.

That really seemed to be the crux of my colleague from Chilliwack’s argument — that if we don’t talk about gender identity, no trans kids will ever know that they’re trans and thus will never be trans and thus never face discrimination. Well, it’s just not credible in any scientific way, not credible in any moral way. Trans kids exist. We know that. To pretend that they would just cease to exist if we didn’t talk about them is just baloney. It’s bogus. It deserves no place in this debate.

To suggest that they themselves and those who acknowledge their existence are somehow responsible for the depression that they face because of people who are full of hate towards them is, again, completely a misdirection. If you want somebody to feel hated, if you want someone to feel that they don’t deserve to exist, you deny their existence. That’s what I hear the argument against SOGI 123 to be is deny trans kids’ existence because somehow it might lead them into depression if they are acknowledged to exist. Well, that is in no way sensible.

I’m so glad that the government finally, after years of kicking and screaming, in 2016, agreed to acknowledge their existence. One of the reasons I ran for government was to make sure our education system was inclusive of everybody.

I think we should go back to who led the way on this. It wasn’t the B.C. Liberals, as much as they want to pat themselves on the back. It was students. It was students going back to….

Well, prior to my even meeting my current husband, who I hope will always be my husband, I found that he was actually a student leader. He took to the streets with a bunch of other students. He went to the government of the day. He formed the first gay-straight alliance in a high school in British Columbia in Maple Ridge back in 1996. He faced an incredible hatred for it, but he acknowledged gay people existed. He acknowledged transgender people existed, and I think that that was the right thing. His school, his principal and teachers — not all of them — started to became part of that.

The school board started to adopt these policies back in 2001 in Vancouver. Back in 2001, I remember arguing with the now Opposition House Leader when she was a school trustee voting to try and ban gay-straight alliances in schools. So this history goes back a long way.

We come to 2008, when I joined this place. In 2009, 2010, 2011, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, the government refused to do anything specific for those who were specifically targeted for violence because they were gay, lesbian, bi and trans. Students spoke out. Schools spoke out. Teachers spoke out. School trustees spoke out, superintendents, treasurers. On and on the list grew until finally the dam broke because of school board and teacher and student action, and the government started to follow the way that our youth had led so many, many, many years before.

You can’t fight a problem unless you acknowledge it exists, and for too long, too many people faced suicide, discrimination and dropping out, because the government of the day refused to acknowledge that they and their problems existed and to do anything specific to help them.

I’m glad most members are going to be speaking in support of our youth had led so many, many years before. You can’t fight a problem unless you acknowledge it exists, and for too long, too many people faced suicide, discrimination, dropping out, because the government of the day refused to acknowledge that they and their problems existed and to do anything specific to help them.

I’m glad most members are going to be speaking in support of this motion, because they did get it right. SOGI is necessary. We need to educate about a problem in order to solve it, not hide it and pretend it doesn’t exist, in order to hope that the problem somehow just goes away, while also speaking in support of people who claim that being gay or lesbian is because there’ve been some propaganda campaign, as the member opposite has suggested, in supporting school trustees who’ve been, really, quite bigoted in their arguments against LBGT kids.

It’s a shame that he’s also their Children and Family critic, because kids and families need to know that their support — on ministers, critics, etc. — supports LGBT kids in all of their ways and in all of their wonderful diversities and acknowledge they actually exist. Yes, we know there are still forces that oppose their existence, forces that still oppose acting to support make a better life for them. We know that they are in the distant minority now because we live in a province that believes we should support all of us.

You know, I support the member. He can have his right to his point of view, but he shouldn’t be trying to force that point of view on kids as they struggle with their own…. Allow them to be who they are. They don’t have to be trans if they don’t want to be. Most kids aren’t. But we should at least acknowledge, for those that are, their ability to be who they are and not try and claim that it’s some sort of conversion experiment by the government.

Now, hon. Speaker, I move that this motion be strongly supported. And at this point, I guess I move adjournment of this debate.