• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

What to Do about SOGI in School

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) laws are being passed in various countries and jurisdictions, and entire school curricula are already in place in British Columbia and Alberta. Some Christian conservatives are sounding alarms south of the border about these developments, but how should thoughtful Christians respond?

Today, let’s focus on the school curricula here in Canada.

To begin, one wonders how necessary a new curriculum actually is, especially an ambitious one mounted all the way from kindergarten to Grade 12. Downstream of the massive popularity of TV shows such as “Will & Grace” and “Ellen,” do we really need a brand-new curriculum essentially saying the same things they have so convincingly said: that adults engage in different kinds of legal marital relationships, that everyone is entitled to safety and respect, and that it’s wrong to insult people on the basis of their sexuality or gender?

Every generation needs to be taught anew, of course. Today’s schoolchildren haven’t watched “Will & Grace” and likely think of “Ellen” only as their mom’s favourite show. But everywhere—everywhere—in Hollywood today these facts and civilities are being taught, imaged, and reinforced. Who doesn’t know them?

If school kids mistreat each other, it’s got to be for the same reason they disregard other rules of polite and respectful coexistence. And schools already have a long experience in dealing with bullies and other trouble-makers. So it seems unlikely that all this advocacy and creativity and planning is really required to obtain the teaching outcomes of mutual respect and daily civility.

Even so, having looked through the curriculum for B.C., it was hard to find fault with it. It seems to be nicely neutral about the facts of family diversity—that is, I couldn’t find it saying what conservatives would fear it says: that all forms of family are equally good. And it advocates what I’m inclined to see as mere common-sense courtesy. Christians and others who are concerned about the curriculum needn’t overreact.

Where things likely will go off the rails is in particular classrooms with particular teachers who will not stick to the script but will feel free, or even compelled, to say more or less than the guidelines prescribe. What then?

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