SOGI, the acronym for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, is a term used for two key parts of a person's identity. SOGI applies to us all. We all have a sexual orientation and gender identity--each of which is shaped by society and culture. What is appropriate for a man or woman to think, say, or do varies widely among places, cultures, religions, and eras. There are many factors that shape who we are and it is important for education to address these. According to Daniel Goleman at Yale University Child Studies Centre, if we understand these factors, we may better understand ourselves and others, becoming, he says, "better pilots of our own lives," to reach our individual potential and to live in harmony in our very diverse society.
Childhood and adolescence are times of rapid development. As children come to understand themselves and others, they can begin to explore their social environments and navigate a complex world of peer relationships that sometimes involves conflict that students do not have the skills to maneuver and that can thereby deteriorate into name-calling, exclusion, or even bullying. If left unaddressed, prejudices and biased attitudes may be left to grow. Educators and other adults can be important role models of how to more carefully steer through the social landscape by recognizing, encouraging, and valuing the diversity of others to ensure that all students are safe and have equitable access to quality education.
"A person's well-being rests in part on the capacity to connect
the various parts of [their] identity into a coherent whole."-Peter Felton and Brooke Barnett, 2016
Safe and Caring Surrey Schools
SOGI-inclusive education is a kind of road map of a diverse landscape. The term "SOGI" has been adopted to identity two prohibited areas of discrimination within the Human Rights Code: "Discrimination based on sexual orientation" and "Discrimination based on gender identity or expression." In 2016, Education Minister, Mike Bernier, required all British Columbia school districts and independent schools to bring their anti-bullying policies into alignment with the Human Rights Code by adding explicit protections for LGBTQ+ students. The Surrey School District's Safe and Caring Schools Regulation 9410.2, created in 2012, honours the idea that students' physical and emotional safety is foundational to their learning and that it can be realized through a long-term commitment to ensuring schools have prevention and intervention strategies in place.
SOGI is not a curriculum. SOGI-inclusive educators work to embed an honouring of diversity among people of all genders, with any sexual orientation or family structure, as they do with their inclusion in class content of the voices, images, and experiences of people belonging to other social groups based on race, religion, ethnicity, dis/ability, and many, many others. The Surrey School District believes in the right of all students to see themselves represented in what and how they learn.
We are actively committed to maintaining a working and learning environment that supports and protects all of our human rights. Please read Regulation 9410.2 and our SD36 SOGI brochure.pdf
SOGI 123 is a network of stakeholders in education created by the ARC Foundation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, BC Teachers' Federation, UBC Faculty of Education, and many school districts across BC. Other supporters are the BC Confederation of Parental Advisory Councils, and the Stollery Charitable Foundation, among others. Presently, all 60 BC school districts have joined the educators' network which "helps educators make schools inclusive and safe for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI)." SOGI-inclusive education sees that "students' biological sex does not limit their interests and opportunities and their sexual orientation and how they understand and express their gender are welcomed without discrimination" (sogieducation.org). Here, gender is not the most important thing about students: students are taught that the similarities among them are more important than the differences which are, to a large extent, constructed and which often result in two teams that play and work apart from--and often against--each other.
The SOGI 123 educators' network has developed a comprehensive collection of resources and information in three areas: 1--Policy and Procedures; 2--Inclusive Environments; 3--Curriculum Resources. All 60 school districts in British Columbia, having partnered with SOGI 123, support the use of these resources by students, parents, and educators. While neither SOGI nor SOGI 123 are prescribed curriculum, teachers are encouraged to integrate them throughout their practice to create safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environments. SOGI is thus embedded--their are no SOGI "units"; inclusion is not optional.
See the SOGI 123 parent brochure in:
The term "Intersectionality" was coined in 1989 to identify the crossroads where aspects of our identity meet or overlap. Crenshaw, a Harvard-alumni and legal scholar, noticed that where the identities of black women intersected (race and gender), there was a particular kind of oppression. She argued that antidiscrimination laws looked at race and gender separately when she examined the hiring practices of a company that appeared to provide equitable employment opportunities. The company hired both men and women and both Caucasian and African American people. The practice of hiring black male factory workers disproved racial discrimination and the practice of hiring white female office staff disproved gender discrimination. In reality, however, intersectional discrimination left no room in the company for black women.
Crenshaw is now considered one of the founders of Critical Race Theory which has given us in the Surrey School District an important tool: the intersectional lens or approach. Through this lens, we can see our students as complex human beings—each one having many aspects of their identity, and each of these aspects existing upon a continuum of privilege through oppression. What this means in education is that each student is utterly unique and that it is important for students to learn about themselves and others—about what comprises their identities, about how to nurture each part and integrate each into one cohesive and healthy whole. What this means in education is that each student's voice is important—crucial to creating the larger story of what it means to be Canadian.
In coming together with this shared Canadian identity, educators need to help students build empathy, connect and engage with one another, and determine together their common purpose. Through this, students will develop other Core Competencies such as perspective-taking, planning and negotiating skills, communication skills, and problem- and conflict-solving skills in order to live harmoniously in our diverse and democratic society.
2021 Pride Poster Winners: Pride Poster Winners 2021
Learn about gender and sexual identities with the Gender Unicorn
British Columbia Teachers' Federation: LGBTQ+ Issues in Schools
SARAVYC findings for Trans & Non-Binary Youth in BC infographic
SARAVYC Research-Based Resources on LGBTQ2+
Qmunity's Queer Glossary
Pride Education Network's Resources
GLSEN Resources for Educators & Students
Safe and Inclusive Environments Flyer: SSD_Brochure7_SOGI-2020 update.pdf
Out in Schools - BC-based, award-winning education program.
PFLAG Canada in Surrey - Parents and families of lesbians and Gays.
Qmunity - for people from the "LGBTQ2S community to meet, guide, and support one another.
Sher Vancouver - non-profit society for LGBTQ South-Asians and their friends, families, and allies.
Transcare BC - Provincial Health Services Authority.
Connect with Us:
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to contact us.
Nicole Curtis - SOGI Helping Teacher
email: firstname.lastname@example.org ph: 604-595-6013
Vacant - District Office Clerk