SOGI FAQs for Parents and Caregivers

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School District 48 strives to ensure that all students, staff, and families feel safe, welcome, and valued in all schools and work environments across the district. In fact, the Enduring Understandings foundational to our district strategic plan, Pathways to Learning, reinforce this commitment:

Inclusion is a Right
Diversity is a Strength
Personalization is the Way

That’s why we’re in full support of SOGI-inclusive education in SD48. We take great pride in fostering an environment where everyone can thrive and feel respected, regardless of their background, identity, or orientation. Our commitment to creating a safe and nurturing space for all is deeply rooted in our core values.

Interested in learning more? Please click on the headings below to find answers to common questions.


SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity. Since we all have a sexual orientation and gender identity, it includes all of us. Every student understands and expresses their gender differently, with interests and choices that are common or less common for their gender. Some students may be unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Others may identify specifically as lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, queer, two-spirit, transgender, cisgender, non-binary, or other. A SOGI-inclusive school means all of these experiences and identities are welcomed, embraced, and never cause for discrimination.
SOGI is one of many topics about diversity discussed regularly in schools, just like when educators speak about race, ethnicity, religion, and ability. SOGI-inclusive education simply means speaking about SOGI in a way that ensures every student - and every member of our learning community - feels like they belong. There is no separate and distinct SOGI program or curriculum. Sexual orientation and gender identity are important topics that are interwoven through several curriculum areas and school activities. How the topics are introduced to students is always dependent on the age and stage of their development. These topics may also be discussed as they arise in the daily lives of students.

In July 2016, Bill 27- Human Rights Code Amendment Act was passed to include “gender identity or expression” among the protected grounds covered by the BC Human Rights Code. The Ministry of Education and Child Care followed in September 2016 with its own directive mandating that explicit references to sexual orientation and gender identity be added to the policies and codes of conduct in each school district across BC.

That means that schools have the legal responsibility to proactively create safe, inclusive learning environments for all students. Some students face physical barriers, while other barriers, like sexual orientation and gender identity, are not so visible.The Ministry of Education and Child Care has produced a SOGI Policy Guide that includes three goals for supporting diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions:

  1. Visibility: The diversity of sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions are recognized and valued.
  2. Protection: The dignity of all people across the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) spectrum is intended to be preserved, as well as protected from harm.
  3. Inclusion: Equitable treatment and inclusion are a reality for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.

Unfortunately, schools are not always safe places for LGBTQIA2S+* youth to be out or to be themselves. Similarly, students who express their gender in less common ways or who come from LGBTQIA2S+ families can experience school as unsafe or unwelcoming. These experiences greatly increase the risk of significant mental health concerns in youth. The McCreary Centre Society reported that LGBTQIA2S+ youth are at a much greater risk of attempting suicide than their same-aged, straight, and cisgender peers.

While a lot of great work has occurred over many years to improve the school experiences of all students with regard to SOGI, there remains a need to ensure that all school staff who work directly with students in schools have access to tools, resources, and supports to help make a difference.

Please read the joint statement of support for SOGI from the Minister of Education and Child Care and BC K-12 education partners, as listed below:

  • BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA)
  • BC School Superintendents Association (BCSSA)
  • BC Association of School Business Officials (BCASBO)
  • BC Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association (BCPVPA)
  • BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF)
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees BC (CUPE BC)
  • BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC)
  • Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA)
  • ARC Foundation
  • First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)
  • First Nations Schools Association (FNSA)
  • Métis Nation BC (MNBC)

*NOTE: LGBTQIA2S+ is used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, non-binary et al.

SOGI education provides tools and resources for creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Research shows that harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is experienced by approximately equal numbers of students who identify as LGBTQIA2S+* and not LGBTQIA2S+. This is because homophobia and transphobia can be directed at anyone and invariably have a negative effect on school culture, emotional well-being, and academic success.

*NOTE: LGBTQIA2S+ is used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, non-binary et al.

The Ministry of Education and Child Care collaborated with provincial education partners, including the University of British Columbia Faculty of Education and Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC), to support the development of SOGI. SOGI continues to be informed through SARAVYC in addition to other sources of credible information, including the Canadian Paediatric Society and the McCreary Centre Society.

SOGI is not a dedicated curriculum; rather, it offers a set of resources to explore curricular themes. Within the K-12 Curriculum, the Province has identified Core Competencies as essential for all learners and includes topics of valuing diversity and respecting differences. Educators, schools, and school districts explore the various components and protected grounds of identity in the BC Human Rights Code within those curricular themes including, but not necessarily limited to, gender identity and expression. 

SOGI is woven through the curriculum, most notably physical and health education, language arts, and social studies. The learning standards of the Physical and Health Education (PHE) curriculum were developed in collaboration with a team of public and independent school teachers, post-secondary academics, and subject-matter experts from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Children and Family Development. The development team made decisions about curriculum content and age-appropriateness based on lessons learned from BC’s previous curriculum, comparison with other Canadian and international jurisdictions, and relevant academic research. 

SOGI learning resources have been formally evaluated by the BC Focused Education Resources as age-appropriate and aligned with the provincial curriculum and evidence-based educational approaches.

Educators have expressed a need for more SOGI resources and training to ensure all students feel confident being themselves. SOGI 1 2 3 is an educator network and is simply one way that educators can find the resources and tools to better understand sexual orientation and gender identity. SOGI 1 2 3 provides professional development and curriculum resources such as ready-to-use, grade-level appropriate lesson plans, online learning modules, and customizable templates and tools that align with BC’s curriculum. It also provides guidance and support for school districts in creating inclusive policies, procedures, and school environments. SOGI 1 2 3 equips educators of all backgrounds and experiences with more understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity so that SOGI topics and considerations can be included in schools and classrooms appropriately. While SOGI 1 2 3 educator resources are designed to support the delivery of the provincial curriculum, their use in BC schools is not mandated. Educators will use their professional autonomy to determine what resources to use.

SOGI 123 also provides useful resources to parents and caregivers, and answers to common questions. Please click on SOGI 123 For Parents to learn more.

The ARC foundation developed SOGI 1 2 3 in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, BC Teachers’ Federation, The University of British Columbia’s faculty of education, Out in Schools, nine school districts throughout BC, and local, national and international LGBTQIA2S+* community organizations. The ARC Foundation is a private foundation based in Vancouver that supports projects that improve the status of those who are marginalized in society by sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, or financial status.

*NOTE: LGBTQIA2S+ is used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, non-binary et al.

SD48 follows the Ministry of Education and Child Care’s SOGI Policy manual, and supports the SOGI 1 2 3 model of implementation. This model guides us in developing policies and procedures, creating inclusive environments, and providing appropriate and relevant classroom resources for SOGI. You can read SD48’s Board Policy for SOGI here. This policy outlines how our district is supporting students and staff to create SOGI-inclusive schools that value and celebrate diversity here on the unceded and ancestral territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw and St'át'y'emc Nations.
SOGI-inclusive education is about students having conversations about the SOGI diversity in society and the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect. Teachers are best equipped to determine what is age appropriate for their classrooms. For example, some students are raised by single dads, grandparents, or stepparents, while some do not have a mom, and some have two. An effective K/1 lesson on family diversity will teach students that families come in all shapes and sizes. Another lesson may discourage students from saying “that’s so gay,” which directly impacts the welcoming atmosphere of schools. SOGI 1 2 3 lesson plans are an optional resource for educators. They align with the BC provincial curriculum and are meant to be customized by educators as they desire.
It’s essential that all students and their families feel safe and welcomed in school. In order to do that, it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to learn about each other and celebrate each other’s differences.  We want to ensure students learn to value diversity and how to respond to discrimination when it happens – not just with SOGI, but with all kinds of diversity in our schools, including race, ethnicity, ability, religion, etc. The SOGI content and Ministry of Education and Child Care-approved resources are developed and formally evaluated by a team of experts in the field. Additionally, just as with other content at school, teachers understand and select age- and grade-appropriate materials for students to explore what it means to value diversity and respect differences, and how to respond to discrimination on the basis of all diverse identities, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The best place to start is always with your child’s teacher. As with all areas of the curriculum, the classroom teacher is the most knowledgeable about the subjects being taught in individual classes. The school-based administrator can also be an excellent source of information regarding school-wide activities and learning.
We all want our children and students to love themselves and thrive within their schools and communities. At home, you can be curious and learn about SOGI topics with your child. You can open up the conversation and keep it open, by allowing them to question, express, and explore their individuality as they wish, and by inviting them to talk openly about their experiences at school. In addition, you can share the values of acceptance and respecting people’s differences through your own actions among friends and neighbours, so that your child learns from your example and takes those lessons back to school. When friends and neighbours are curious about SOGI in schools, consider sharing this FAQ or this SOGI 1 2 3 double-sided brochure.
The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) has gathered many SOGI resources for parents/guardians. These can be found here.
See the Canadian Paediatric Society website for more information about the concepts of gender identity, gender expression and how these typically develop in children.
The Ministry of Education works to create safe, welcoming and inclusive learning environments for all BC students. In the BC Curriculum, “The positive personal and cultural identity competency involves the awareness, understanding, and appreciation of all the facets that contribute to a healthy sense of oneself. It includes awareness and understanding of one’s family background, heritage(s), language(s), beliefs, and perspectives in a pluralistic society.” As primary educators, families teach family values and beliefs. The BC curriculum assists in developing “educated citizens” who are co-operative, principled, and respectful of others regardless of differences. The ways that teachers may address SOGI in the curriculum are not about students developing a particular set of beliefs around sexual orientation and gender identity. Educators help students deepen their understanding of the diverse society that we live in and how to treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of our perceived or real differences.
Individual families will always have a range of opinions on many topics, and it is expected that some parents/caregivers may be apprehensive about aspects of the school system that may not align with their family’s values. That said, it is the role of public schools to uphold the Human Rights-inspired values of inclusion, dignity, and respect for all persons, regardless of real or perceived differences.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are topics that are interwoven through several curriculum areas, school activities and arise in conversations about students’ daily lives. Therefore, it is not possible to inform parents/caregivers every time SOGI-related content may arise at school.
The Ministry of Education and Child Care has allowed for some flexibility in the delivery of topics related to reproduction and sexuality in the Physical and Health Education curriculum that some students and their parents/caregivers may feel more comfortable addressing by means other than instruction by a teacher in a regular classroom setting. You can learn more about the Alternative Delivery Policy here. Please contact your child's principal if you'd like to discuss options.

As per SD48's Board Policy, schools will provide support for LGBTQIA2S+* youth in their school communities by focusing on integrated and inclusive activities. Students will be included and accommodated for in all extra-curricular activities regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, including support to set up a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) or similar club. Schools also include specific references to discrimination on the basis of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation in their Codes of Conduct. 

Students are always supported by all members of the school community. If additional or specific SOGI supports are needed for your child, please speak to your child’s classroom teacher, school-based administrator, school counsellor, and/or inclusion support teacher.

*NOTE: LGBTQIA2S+ is used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, non-binary et al.

  • Sea to Sky Safety Net is a resource hub of self-care tools and local services to help connect Sea to Sky residents to community resources and program links. Please click here to go directly for a listing and description specifically for the LGBTQIA2S+ community, their families, and their allies.
Please click here for more information about SOGI from the Ministry of Education and Child Care.