Homophobia and Transphobia Doesn't Belong on our School Board. Your Vote Will Make a Difference!

Written on 06/13/2021
Wilbur Turner


Brinkerhoff and her husband are the Central Okanagan Regional Cohort Directors of the religious organization Colson Fellows. According to their Facebook post "we feel this is one of the best on-ramps to see our Canadian culture impacted by the gospel. Our dream is to see an army of believers rise up to change our political, educational, entertainment (etc) spheres for the gospel, especially based on world-view understanding.”  

Colson Fellows ‘world-view’ is anti-LGBTQ and against marriage equality. This update was added as it is clear what the agenda for getting on the school board is.

"The kids of my sibling are LGBTQ and go to school in Kelowna. Please win to keep them safe." This message came with a donation to the Wayne Broughton campaign for the school trustee by-election in Kelowna. The plea tugged at my heartstrings. Of all the things we can do for our 2SLGBTQ youth, one of the most important is to create a safe and welcoming school environment. Would it surprise you the exact opposite seems to be the agenda of another school trustee candidate?

"Parents must be kept informed of what is happening in school, and their children should not be coerced into adopting viewpoints which are contrary to their family values. Open discussion needs to be promoted - not a single 'politically correct' ideology." This social media post with its thinly veiled transphobia and homophobia came from Joyce Brinkerhoff, who recently announced her nomination for school trustee. She bemoans that schools are being the authority and decision-makers on values students adopt when teaching kids about gender. This language, labelling science-based teaching, inclusivity and diversity as a PC ideology belies the message in her campaign video where she speaks of her work in the community on welcoming and inclusive environments.

As a retired school teacher, this candidate should know the difference between science and values. Instead, she conflates the two to imply there is a war against family values and parental rights. This harmful rhetoric regarding gender education is what leads to schoolyard beatings of trans students.

Local evangelical churches shared Brinkerhoff's election posts with one stating, "There are important issues around gender and parental rights going on, and she shares our values, so we need her voice on the school board."

What is being referred to in this coded language talking about values is opposition to SOGI 123, resources for teachers and schools to combat bullying, harassment, and victimization of 2SLGBTQ kids, and to create a safe learning environment for all students. Human rights should not be up for debate by elected officials, particularly when there is overwhelming evidence we are still not doing enough for this group of children.

Egale Canada just released a report on discrimination in schools. Still in Every Class in Every School (Peter, Campbell & Taylor, 2021) reveals that while there have been some important improvements in the last decade, we have a long way to go to create safer and more accepting schools for 2SLGBTQ youth. Some key takeaways from the report:

  • 64% of all participants reported hearing homophobic comments daily or weekly at school
  • 30% of 2SLGBTQ respondents had been victims of cyberbullying, compared to 8% of cisgender heterosexual respondents
  • 57% of trans respondents had been targets of mean rumours or lies
  • 62% of 2SLGBTQ students feel unsafe at school, compared to 11% of cisgender heterosexual respondents

One point that stood out to me in this report is that discrimination and bullying also happen to those perceived to be 2SLGBTQ. Youth don't even need to identify on this spectrum to be victimized. It is a built-in reaction due to what children learn from their parents and churches' so-called values'.

These are heteronormative, pseudo-Christian, discriminatory values where the emotional, mental, and physical health of youth are pawns in their morality game. Values where inclusion and diversity are an ideological enemy. Values is a code word in a Christian crusade for the erasure of the 2SLGBTQ community based on the outdated belief that it is a preference or lifestyle choice that can be prayed away. If you don't talk about us, we don't exist.

One of the recommendations of the Egale report is to "Meaningfully include, consult, and engage individuals and organizations with established expertise in intersectionality and 2SLGBTQ-inclusive education." Clearly, Brinkerhoff's agenda completely misses the mark. I'm not advocating anyone harass this candidate; however, please read and send her the Egale report if you're a friend of hers. Maybe her heart and mind will be opened. 

There is a lot at stake here, and unfortunately, voting margins are often very slim in trustee elections. Don't be a bystander! Wayne Broughton has made his stand for inclusive schools very clear.

I know who I'm voting for. 

Wilbur Turner (he/him), who identifies as gay and queer, lives in Kelowna on the unceded traditional land of the syilx peoples and has contributed on many levels to LGBTQ2S rights, both locally and internationally.