Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan, left, and Kari Simpson, president of Culture Guard. (Photos: Now-Leader file)

Surrey School District refuses to rent Bell Centre for Parents United Canada rally

Group is seeking court injunction to stop an LGBTQ program in public schools

SURREY — The Surrey School District has denied a group called Parents United Canada the right to rent the Bell Performing Arts Centre for a rally next month to inform parents about efforts to stop a curriculum program called SOGI 123.

The program, according to sogieducation.org, “equips educators of all backgrounds and experiences with tools and resources for supporting marginalized LGBTQ students and for creating safer and more inclusive school environments for all students.”

Kari Simpson, president of a group called Culture Guard, says teachers are being told to not to refer to boys as boys and girls as girls “because they can be anything they want and everything in between.”

She called it an abuse of the public education system, and a “political program, brainwashing students” from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

“Teachers are also told not to use the terms ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ anymore,” Simpson recently told the Now-Leader. “They circumvented parental notification.”

Simpson said her group was expecting an overflow crowd at the Bell Centre for the Nov. 22nd rally.

That was until Friday.

“The Surrey school board has denied our rental of the Bell Centre, and they just informed us today, saying that it doesn’t fit with their policies,” Simpson told the Now-Leader. “My understanding it was the superintendent himself that was responsible for conveying the message to the manager of the Bell Centre.

“We also have it in writing that this is the case but there’s no specifics as to exactly what policy we are contravening so my lawyers are putting together a letter right now. You cannot discriminate against a group just because you don’t agree with them, whether it be politically, or ideologically or anything else, and deny them a service. The BC Human Rights Code prohibits that kind of descriminatory practice.”

Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan said Friday the district has a policy that it can deny use of a facility if there are “reasonable grounds to believe” it could lead to a “protest,” adding there’s indication that that could happen.

Strachan said the district’s concern is about liability for potential damage.

The Now-Leader obtained a letter from Simpson to her organization, from Steven Goodman, manager of the Bell Performing Arts Centre, that reads: “Thank you for your interest in booking the Bell Performing Arts Centre for your meeting. As explained on the phone, the Executive Committee of the Surrey School District has determined that this event does not align with the policies of the Surrey School District. Your rental request has been denied on this basis.”

Simpson said the organization is now looking for a venue that can accommodate up to 15,000 people for a rally. She said her group is planning to file a request for an injunction “probably within the next two weeks” aiming to stop SOGI 123.

“It’s political suicide to piss off the parents,” Simpson said. “I have never seen anything like this,” she said, speaking about opposition to the school program.

“I think it’s the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Delta crime beat, week of Jan. 4

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

South Delta crime beat, week of Jan. 6

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Greedy family’s maid overcomes them all in Surrey Little Theatre’s latest play

‘The Late Christopher Bean’ is staged at Clayton-area theatre for a month starting Jan. 23

Fire truck, police car hit in chain of crashes on Hwy. 99 in South Surrey

‘People weren’t paying attention,’ says Surrey assistant fire chief

Not over yet: Mixture of snow, freezing rain on way as winter storm tapers in Lower Mainland

Environment Canada releases weather alert for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

Abbotsford bank ATM robbery thwarted by woman standing her ground

Police arrest alleged known robber running down South Fraser wearing balaclava

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

B.C. offers $5 million equipment loan program to help ailing forest contractors

Local politicians in Port McNeill and Campbell River says local economies are struggling

Vancouver Island distillery wins award for best Canadian rye whisky

Shelter Point cleans up at Canadian Whisky Awards

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Dad of missing Abbotsford woman charged after allegedly exposing himself in park

Barry Shpeley charged with sexual assault and assault

Most Read