The parents who are afraid of SOGI have been played.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, a group of about 100 people stood outside the Langley Schools District 35 office in support of the Trustees who had recently approved the SOGI 123 curriculum. (I won’t go into the SOGI specifics, anyone can review it for themselves at www.sogieducation.com.)

Photo by Brad Dirks (no relation to Paul Dirks).

Among those holding up signs and standing in solidarity with the trustees, were students, family members, friends and allies of LGBTQ students.

I wasn’t able to attend, since my current occupation had me stuck in downtown Vancouver. During the two weeks leading up to this peaceful rally, I was in communication with a few individuals who were responding to another group of parents. This first group had voiced strong opposition to SOGI, with a well-organized initiative that included a Facebook page and a website to raise money. 

The Langley parents who are afraid of SOGI gathered a few weeks earlier to listen to their organizers, who included Kari Simpson, Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, and New Westminster pastor Paul Dirks. A video was produced and posted on their Facebook page; it captured pastor Dirks’ presentation, complete with slides and transcript. The title of his message was “Gay and Transgender Research.”

These concerned parents sat and listened in horror as Dirks cited study after study, which he claimed proved that LGBTQ, and in particular transgender people, suffer from mental illness. This, at least, is the message most of those who sat through the presentation would have taken away. Dirks played on their fears. The bottom line? SOGI should not be implemented and must be opposed. 

Thankfully, Dirks provided the names of the studies and the authors in the slides he projected. I took the time to note at what minute and second mark in the video each study was referenced. I then search the internet and contacted the authors I could find. I provided the link to the video and approximately when they were quoted; and I asked them these two simple questions: 1) Per his narrative, is he using your work accurately? 2) Do you have any commentary on the use of your research by this and/or similar groups?

Four of the authors quoted by Dirks have responded to my letter. All have basically said the same thing; they were misrepresented. Though Dirks may have presented some of their findings, he took them out of context; conveniently ignoring other facts and the authors scholarly discussions and conclusions. The implication being their work would actually support initiatives for transgender inclusion. This raises the question of academic honesty and integrity. Had this been a Masters thesis, Dirks would have failed or possibly been expelled.

I sent the Langley Schools trustees an open letter on  September 25, with the three responses I had received at the time of the writing. Since then, a fourth study representative has responded this way: 
“In terms of the quote attributed to our service, selective excerption changes the meaning intended by the original writer in the longer article.” 
Anti-SOGI people comment and share the Paul Dirks video.
Many shared the
Paul Dirks video.
Where does this leave all those concerned parents who sat through the presentation and the countless thousands who have now watched and shared the video? Someone shared the video with this comment: “Paul Dirk shares statistics which need to be known so we can better help those hurting and keep our young children from being lead down this path in our public schools.” Another said, “Good things are worth sharing...”

Obviously, people want the facts; but when someone takes advantage of their sincerity with a calculated attempt to sway them by providing only partial truths, misinformation and fear-mongering, then one needs to speak out. 

I want to tell the parents who are afraid of SOGI that they’ve been played. They’ve been duped by Dirks, et al. My heart goes out to them.

Lisa Salazar, MAPPL
Transgender Author and Advocate
PFLAG Vancouver Board Member

_____________________


Edited Monday, Oct. 2 at 9:10 pm to correct the opening statement. I had previously said the trustees were voting to approve the curriculum later that night. In truth, the curriculum had already been approved. I also replaced "Last week" with the actual day and date the group of supporters stood in front of the Langely Schools District 35 office.

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