Members of the RCMP were on hand. They asked both sides to keep the sidewalks clear for the public at the peaceful demonstrations. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

VIDEO: Pro and anti SOGI advocates protest outside Langley School Board office

Police were on hand but did not intervene except to ask both sides to keep the sidewalks clear.

The second pro-inclusivity rally of this school year in Langley proved a learning opportunity for proponents and opponents Tuesday evening.

A group of people were in front of the Langley School District board office prior to the Tuesday evening board meeting to make a public display of their support for inclusivity and support of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 123 (SOGI) resource in local public schools.

The issue was on the meeting agenda but in the form of identical letters from anti-SOGI advocates Kari Simpson and Theresa Carnduff of Culture Guard Canada. School board chairman Rob McFarlane said the board has decided that people wanting to voice opinions on SOGI can make written submissions to the district but not have time at the board meetings.

“This is both unlawful and discriminatory,” the letters said of the board’s decision.

The two said they would instead post their submissions on the internet.

A handful of SOGI opponents with signs set up on the corner on the east side of 222nd Street, some in Soldiers of Odin (SoO) shirts.

Mom Rachael Wagner and her family were at the rally even though they live in Surrey where they say the school and teachers for their five-year-old have been very accepting of his gender explorations.

He wears dresses about half the time “so it’s important to me that he’s included,” she said.

The mother of three supports SOGI because she believes children should grow up supported if they do not fit into traditional gender definitions.

“I’m tired of being quiet about my beliefs,” Wagner said.

(Story continues below)

Teacher Angela Cowling and Austin Lee are the Gay/Straight Alliance teachers at H.D. Stafford Middle School and attended the rally to support local young people because there are serious implications for young people struggling with these issues.

“What SOGI is, in the grand scheme of things, is an anti-suicide program,” she said in discussions with some of the anti SOGI people at the rally.

The Langley Advance asked some in the anti-SOGI group if any of them had children in the local district and would be willing to talk about the issues. A man and woman said they would but would not identify themselves over concerns about being attacked for being against SOGI.

Cody Greffard has two children in the Surrey school district but wanted to come to the Langley rally to voice his opinion on SOGI.

He’s not a full member of Soldiers of Odin Delta chapter, but has been with the group for more than four months. He says it’s not affiliated with the original right-wing SoO founded in Finland.

For him, the issues were the lack of public say on SOGI and parental rights to teach their children about inclusivity and tolerance.

“It should be voted on,” he said. “Even if it’s sometimes the wrong decision, it should be based on the majority.”

He and some of the others SOGI opponents spent time talking with the pro-SOGI members.

Dave Jensen has three children in local schools and opposes SOGI.

“It’s about the rights of the parents,” he told the Advance.

He disagrees with sexual orientation and gender identity issues being raised as early as kindergarten.

“I think sexual education should probably be in the later grades,” he said.

Jensen said SOGI probably started in a good place but became overreaching, and he often feels attacked for publicly voicing opposition.

The Langley RCMP were on scene asking both sides to stand on grass medians and not the sidewalks.

 

H.D. Stafford Middle School teachers Austin Lee and Angela Cowling attended the inclusivity rally on June 19. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

An inclusivity rally was held June 19 before the Langley School District board meeting. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

Rachael Wagner, with Henry in his rainbow carrier, attended the inclusivity rally on Tuesday evening. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

People for and against SOGI 123 met on the street corners near the Langley School District office before the monthly board meeting where the issue was expected to be on the agenda. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

Just Posted

McDonald’s manager in Hope recognized with national award

Cassidy Harasin recognized for her hard work over past eight years

UPDATE: Overnight shooting in downtown Chilliwack leaves one male on life support

The victim, who is not expected to survive, is known to police and was likely targeted, IHIT says

Conservative Brad Vis wins in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon

Vis wins in second bid for seat in House of Commons

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s result

Fraser Canyon Hospital has urgent need for stretchers

Stretchers needed in Hope’s emergency room cost $12,000 each

Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring

More than 100 ‘luxury’ dog outfits stolen from Surrey woman’s vehicle

Kathy Neumeyer says 100-plus dog sweaters and raincoats were nicked from her SUV last week

Greta Thunberg declines invitation to Victoria due to time, not ferry emissions

Thunberg confirmed that she will be joining a climate strike at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday

‘Havoc and chaos:’ Alberta separatist group gains support as Liberals re-elected

The idea is getting interest from people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia

Feds finally decriminalizing drugs possible – but it’s up to Jagmeet Singh, expert says

National pharmacare was one of Singh’s most highly-touted platform policies

In the news: Wexit, Brexit and Trump sparks outrage

There’s been a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group

VIDEO: Man in his 20s in hospital following shooting in Abbotsford

Incident takes place Tuesday night in 31700 block of South Fraser Way

Horvat’s hat trick lifts Canucks to 5-2 win over Red Wings

First career three-goal game for Vancouver captain

Most Read