A group that helped organize last year’s Freedom Convoy is targeting B.C. school boards in what one activist calls “continual harassment” over Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) guidelines meant to help LGBTQ2S+ students.
Action4Canada promised in an announcement on its website Wednesday to step up its campaign against B.C. public schools, “since we are having such an effective impact on pushing back against the SOGI 123 resource and the filthy books in our school systems.”
Group founder Tanya Gaw said in a video on Facebook last week that she is coaching followers on presenting at school board meetings and the group would be at the next night’s School District 23 board meeting in Kelowna.
Wilbur Turner, founder of LGBTQ2S+ organization Advocacy Canada, attended the board meeting and filmed three women who accused the school district of “sexual indoctrination” and exposing children to “pornography” at schools.
“Canada was founded on God’s word, the Bible,” one speaker said to trustees in a video Turner posted to Twitter, before reading a Bible passage that quotes Jesus saying, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”
“It was very discriminatory and harmful language to be using,” Turner tells Xtra. “There were students in the room, and parents of gender-diverse kids were in the room, so this kind of language is very harmful and should have no place, in my opinion, in a public school board meeting.”
The B.C. government developed the SOGI guidelines in 2016 for teachers to use at their discretion, but they are not part of the curriculum. The goals of the guidelines, according to the province’s website, include helping teachers speak in a way “that makes every student feel like they belong,” and “not limiting a person’s potential based on their biological sex and how they understand or express their gender.” The government encourages schools to include SOGI in codes of conduct and anti-bullying policies to reduce discrimination and harassment.
The Kelowna board meeting was the latest in Action4Canada’s string of actions against inclusive policies in B.C. schools.
Mission Public Schools banned the group from its meetings for a year after members made a presentation in January that the board called “hateful and disturbing.”
Last week, Gaw filed a complaint with Chilliwack RCMP claiming a school library had books containing child pornography—a complaint police investigated and found to be false.
“This is a serious allegation and one that caused many parents great concern in our community,” Chilliwack RCMP Sgt. Krista Vrolyk said in a statement.
Last fall, the group distributed anti-LGBTQ2S+ pamphlets to Kelowna parents that were littered with misinformation, accused the school district of criminal activity for “sexually grooming children” and called for the book It’s Perfectly Normal to be pulled from schools. The book, which Central Okanagan Public Schools recommends for sex-ed in Grades 4–7, depicts sexual acts with cartoon drawings of naked people. It was published in 1994 and is intended to teach about topics including sexual and emotional health, relationships, puberty, pregnancy and sexual orientation. According to NPR, it has been “one of the most banned books” since its publication.
Five Central Okanagan Board of Education trustees issued a news release defending their school district and criticizing the group, saying they “will not tolerate this abusive behaviour.”
“What their agenda seems to be in B.C. is to attack school boards,” Turner says. “It’s just the continual harassment of the school districts.”
Action4Canada was founded in 2019 and calls itself a “grassroots movement” that is “committed to protecting … FAITH, FAMILY and FREEDOM.” The group sued the Canadian government over vaccine mandates, a civil claim that a B.C. judge dismissed last September and called “bad beyond argument.” A long list of grievances posted on its website includes abortion, critical race theory, 5G technology and what it calls “political Islam.”
It has also organized protests against drag queen storytime events in Kelowna, including one in January.
Its website claims “the LGBTQ” have been hijacked by radical activists who are “attacking the core freedoms and rights of all Canadians,” and that “the UN is involved in this agenda and they are targeting children.” Gaw said in a recent speech that inclusive policies in schools are part of a global agenda to sterilize children and decrease the world’s population.
The group has launched a petition to remove the chair of the Chilliwack school board and initiated numerous email campaigns to school trustees in its ongoing bid to rid B.C. schools of LGBTQ2S+-friendly policies.
“They’re now threatening further action, and I don’t know what that means,” Turner says.
“They’re just trying to keep up the pressure, and I think that’s one of the things that we have to learn how to counter.”