During the municipal elections, many first heard about the SOGI 123 implementation as a topic for school board trustee candidates. Did they support SOGI? Were they against it? Those outside of the K-12 education system may not know what SOGI means, and its importance to kids and our community.
What is SOGI?
SOGI stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. It is a resource for schools and school districts to acknowledge and support the diversity of students, and create more inclusive environments.
Public schools in BC are in year 2 of SOGI 123 implementation. 55/60 school districts in British Columbia are participating. SOGI uses an inclusive framework to make sure that all children feel safe in their schools and classrooms. SOGI is implemented in 3 steps: Policies and Procedures, Inclusive Environments, and Inclusive Curriculum.
SOGI – Inclusive Environments:
This step of SOGI is one that any educator can use in their school, regardless of whether or not their district or school is using the SOGI curriculum. To create a more inclusive environment, there are three foundational steps.
1. Use inclusive language:
- Use gender free phrasing
- They, everyone, students vs. he/she, the boys, the girls
- Use language for all families
- Use parents or guardian vs. mother / father
- Expand your vocabulary – ask questions and get clarity about respectful language (for a glossary click here)
2. Change School Environments:
- Respond to “That’s So Gay!”
- Draw a parallel to other forms of discrimination – “How would people react if you said, “That’s so Asian!” or “That’s so Jewish!” every time you thought something was awful?
- Advise students to say what they mean without trashing other people, for example, saying “That’s so stupid, That’s so weird, That’s so boring!
- State – “We don’t use that language here because it is hurtful/discriminating/mean”
- Be visually welcoming and inclusive:
- Display a rainbow sticker / safe space sticker in a visible place (in my experience this can be a conversation starter, which easily identifies an ally and person who is “safe”.)
- Display SOGI supportive materials, posters or quotes from famous LGBTQ+ icons and community members.
- Increase Awareness and Access
- Include SOGI themed books in a classroom library
- Commemorate LGBTQ+ related awareness days
3. Say NO to Exclusion
- Be open
- Let students know that your classroom is a place that they can be themselves and ask questions.
- Speak Up
- Address comments that are gender identity biased, and educate others about how they can use more inclusive language.
Why is SOGI 123 important?
This program discourages discrimination and teaches values of respect and appreciation. It creates a safer environment for students that may have been marginalized in the past. It tells students that they are valued, important, and included regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
For more information and resources, please check out SOGI 123