LGBT2Q+ Questions for SD23 School Trustee Candidates

Written on 06/16/2021
Kelowna.LGBT


The LGBT2Q+ Coalition School Trustee By-Election Survey Project was created by a coalition of organizations whose members have an interest in inclusion and advocacy for LGBT2Q+ youth. LGBT2Q+ includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-spirit, Queer & Questioning - as well as Intersex, Non-binary, Pansexual, Asexual and Allies.

We represent: BGC Okanagan, The Bridge Youth and Family Services, Etcetera Youth Group, Free Parent Hugs Kelowna, Kelowna Pride Society, Living Positive Resource Center, Nine Rising, Pacific Sport Okanagan, and thehub.lgbt.

We created this candidate survey to gauge each candidate’s commitment and support for our LGBT2Q+ youth, and to help inform our members as they choose whom to vote for on June 26, 2021. The survey was sent to all candidates who are running in the Kelowna municipal school trustee by-election, including response request reminders, and follow up questions where necessary.

The results posted are in each candidate’s own words, and have not been edited for full transparency to the reader. We hope the collected results will allow you to make a thoughtful and informed decision when voting for our new School Trustee in SD23.


Candidate Survey - Joyce Brinkerhoff

  1. How have you advocated for the LGBT2Q+ community and supported inclusion for the LGBT2Q+ community in the past (i.e. have you spoken out publicly for policies at your place of business, testified before government bodies, adopted written policies for your employees, marched for equal rights, etc.)? Please feel free to include events you have participated in and relevant organizations who have endorsed you.

Below are listed some of my involvement in advocating for minority groups and equitable treatment and inclusion for all people regardless of their orientation, gender, age, race, etc:

  • I was a vocal member of the Human Rights Committee during my term as trustee and continued for a time afterwards
  • Member of the Harmony Day committee since its inception.
  • Several years on the executive of Community Against Sexual Exploitation of Youth and served on a special committee led by Living Positive on abuse of gay youth.
  • Assisted in a research study led by Paula Miles and Living Positive Resource Centre exploring anti[1]LGBTQ bias in the school district
  • Participated with AIDS walk fund-raiser led by Rev Baldeo
  • Served as a community representative on the UBCO Diversity and Equity Committee 2+ yrs
  • Coordinator of ‘Ok to Say – Responding to Racism & Hate’ a community-based anti-discrimination community project (which included LGBT2Q+) This initiative continues in its various forms to present
  • Led the Critical Incident Reporting team for incidents of discrimination and hate - funded by Solicitor General
  • Member of COLIP (Central Okanagan Local Immigration Partnership) to promote inclusive communities – of which SD #23 is a member
  • Member of KCR United Against Discrimination project led by Dr Shiley Chau from UBCO
  • Received provincial recognition in 2008 for my efforts in anti-discrimination
  • I’ve served as a ‘Book” at multiple Human Library events –engaging student conversations on topics of anti-bullying/anti-racism/respect for diversity/welcoming and inclusion
  • Co-president of Intercultural Society of Central Okanagan for 10+ years. Founded and lead Global Citizen Events to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals which includes gender equality and reduced inequalities.
  • ‘Changing Face of Kelowna’ – I procured a federal grant to coordinate a diversity research project with CBC radio highlighting the findings.
  • Produced ‘Building Bridges Yes we can!’ featuring local Indo-Canadian stories
  • Personal passion of ‘Respect and be Respected’. Celebrating the intrinsic value of each individual. We should be able to disagree on some things but still be agreeable
  1. Please comment on your opinion of the SOGI123 resources from the Ministry of Education.

I support the principles of SOGI 1 and 2 in its documentation of inclusive policies and in providing safe spaces. I believe that some of the resources of SOGI 3 may limit the rights of parents to raise their children with their family’s values.

  1. The LGBT2Q+ community in Kelowna continues to face harassment, bullying and violence because of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. How will you work to promote safer, more inclusive schools in Kelowna? I fully support the rights of LGBT2Q+ individuals to be educated in safer and inclusive schools.

There are two methods of promoting inclusion – through internal means (recognizing the intrinsic value of each individual no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity how they think, look, believe or act) or external means of shaming or threats of punishment. Both means work on the short term – but research has shown that excessive external forms actually create greater internal resistance to inclusion! I believe School District initiatives like Harmony Day, Pink Shirt Day, the Indigenous programs and the surrounding open discussions and increased parental involvement do much more to create inner attitudes of respect and inclusion.

  1. Mental health and addictions issues have impacted our community like many others. The LGBT2Q+ community is disproportionately affected due to many social and economic factors. What will you do to improve and address these issues, and improve the mental health and wellness of our schools and community?

This is a tragic reality and one that is an ongoing school and community concern. Safe spaces are vital and need to be encouraged. Ongoing mental health training for school counselors, administrators., teachers and support staff needs to be available. School and community programs are also vital in addressing some of the other indicators of mental health. i.e. hunger (Food for Thought provides school breakfasts in number of schools) or social isolation (excellent programs like the Y, Rec Centre & Boys and Girls Club) and District specialty academies which create unique ways to learn and flourish.

  1. LGBT2Q+ youth and young adults routinely leave Kelowna for larger cities once they have reached the age of majority. What factors do you think lead to this mass exodus, and what would you do to address these issues?

Historically, numbers of our youth have left Kelowna- bigger cities can offer more - but I think it has been changing in recent years. The impact of UBCO,OC & specialty schools, the supportive environment for business start-ups, the growth in tech jobs, the growing cultural district as well as youth-driven community groups like OYP, JCI and others, have created ample opportunities for young adults to thrive here. I would encourage these and more!

  1. What is your position on uniformed RCMP presence in schools, specifically relating to LGBT2Q+ and QTIBIMPoC students?

I admit I am not knowledgeable enough to have a firm position, but I believe, where values of respect are diligently applied by everyone- the RCMP presence would likely be appreciated.

  1. Ally is a verb. How would you specifically support our QTBIMPoC (Queer, Trans, Black, Mixed Race, Indigenous, People of Color), immigrants and refugees, and ensure they see themselves represented in our schools and community?

I would continue to work, as I have been doing (see #1 above), to promote welcoming and respectful communities. I would actively support anti-bullying school initiatives and create initiatives that seek to address prejudice and raise aware of injustice. I would model respect for everyone and humbly expect respect in return. 

  1. Can you please describe your ambassador role in the Colson Fellows, which publicly misgenders trans people and does not appear to support the LGBT2Q+ community?

The Colson Fellows program I am also involved in is presented in the framework of worldview studies, with a keen interest in understanding the worldview of peoples of every nature, including those in disagreement with my own worldview. The CF comment policy is “We encourage civil discussions. Please keep bad language, personal attacks, off-topic comments, and general bad behavior off our site”.

I could not, and would not, expect everyone I interact with to agree with me or my worldview, and I would simply request the same consideration from others. Philosophical differences do not have to equal a disdain or lack of respect for the individual or affect their ability to serve. I believe my record has shown that I will be respectful and work together for the good of everyone – and I look forward to also receiving respect.


Candidate Survey - Wayne Broughton

  1. How have you advocated for the LGBT2Q+ community and supported inclusion for the LGBT2Q+ community in the past (i.e. have you spoken out publicly for policies at your place of business, testified before government bodies, adopted written policies for your employees, marched for equal rights, etc.)? Please feel free to include events you have participated in and relevant organizations who have endorsed you.
  • I am a parent and advocate of two amazing transgender kids
  • Marched in Pride Parades and Trans Pride Marches for many years
  • Participant in Trans Day of Remembrance for many years
  • Co-founded TransParent Okanagan peer support group for parents and families with trans youth, co-facilitated workshops for parents and families
  • TransParent Okanagan has sponsored several Pride-related events including Trans Pride March, Drag show meet-and-greet for youth, Queer Prom
  • Member of Positive Space Committee at UBC Okanagan: (to increase the visibility and continued development of respectful, supportive, educational and safe spaces for LGBT2Q+ students, staff and faculty)
  • Volunteered at UBC Queer Orientation and Pride Picnic for new students
  • Helped to facilitate and participated in LGBT2Q+/Allies faculty and staff social events
  • Member of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee to promote equity in hiring and counter discrimination against QTBIMPoC students, staff and faculty in Computer Science/Mathematics/Physics/Statistics department at UBC Okanagan
  • I have a policy of stating support of LGBT2Q students in every course I teach
  • I only vote for, volunteer for, and financially support political candidates locally, provincially, and federally who are LGBT2Q supportive and inclusive
  • Have written Letters to the Editor in Kelowna Daily Courier re: SOGI123 and inclusivity
  • Regularly attend and support Pride events (Fruitcake), drag shows, LGBTQ networking (the MX), Peak Pride, Drag Bingo, one of the first Unicorns Live subscribers.
  • Member of a local committee (“U5”), helping settle queer refugees in Kelowna and supporting displaced queer refugees overseas.
  • Endorsed by North Okanagan Labour Council based on progressive social views on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  1. Please comment on your opinion of the SOGI123 resources from the Ministry of Education.

I believe that SOGI 123 is an important resource to have available to students and teachers. It provides teachers materials to choose from to increase the diversity of the curriculum, and it can give students options where they see themselves represented and know that they are included. For example, before he came out, my child was able to choose a life-changing book (“George”) with a transgender character that he could identify with and that completely changed his perspective on what was possible, making him feel validated and accepted.

I will always trust teachers to make informed, compassionate and careful choices - choices that will be in the best interest of all the kids in their care. And I trust that parents will continue to be free to teach about their religion and other personal beliefs at home.

I believe SOGI123 also supports teachers and other staff who are themselves LGBTQ+ to have resources which reflect their diversity.

SOGI 123 is in accord with the BC Human Rights Act. Access to this resource is provided by the provincial Ministry, and school boards do not have the authority to change that.

  1. The LGBT2Q+ community in Kelowna continues to face harassment, bullying and violence because of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. How will you work to promote safer, more inclusive schools in Kelowna?

Improve training for school staff and administration to recognize harassment and bullying (or even just warning signs) and act appropriately.

Encourage and empower student allies to protect those who are being bullied.

Resources with a diversity of gender and sexuality are not only crucial for LGBT2Q+ kids, but also for those who regularly interact with them. It’s so important for all kids to see other families represented as well, since knowledge, understanding and compassion come from learning about others. The "2" in SOGI 123 is for creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive school environment for staff and students. It's important to note this is for both kids and staff.  For example this could include creating gender neutral washrooms and GSA (gay-straight alliance groups), but it also could include having visible clues to show kids the classroom is a safe place - a rainbow flag, a Safe Space sticker, etc. The visible signs show kids that this is a safe person, a trusted resource if they have questions. Sometimes school is the only place that kids do feel safe. 

  1. Mental health and addictions issues have impacted our community like many others. The LGBT2Q+ community is disproportionately affected due to many social and economic factors. What will you do to improve and address these issues, and improve the mental health and wellness of our schools and community?

The "1" in SOGI123 covers policies and procedures. It's not just an anti-bullying mandate, it’s about how schools welcome people with differences. We know that schools with inclusive policies show lower levels of drug and alcohol use, suicide, and violence. Policies create safety for all kids - not just the gender and sexual minority students.

School trustees have limited ability to address most of these issues, but by supporting programs and resources like SOGI123 to make schools safer, more welcoming and inclusive, we would improve mental health and reduce the trauma that can lead to addiction.

I encourage training for educators on destigmatizing mental health, and connecting educators and policy makers with community experts and organizations like The Foundry, Kelowna Pride, Etcetera Youth, The Bridge Youth and Family, and TransParent Okanagan.  I believe that no policy should be decided without the full and direct participation of members of the group(s) affected by that policy, and I would ensure consultation with LGBT2Q+ youth and families.

  1. LGBT2Q+ youth and young adults routinely leave Kelowna for larger cities once they have reached the age of majority. What factors do you think lead to this mass exodus, and what would you do to address these issues?

Larger cities allow more anonymity to avoid stigma, make possible a fresh start to someone’s life who faces hostility from family and friends here, and have more choice of supportive services and welcoming community. Some of this cannot be matched in a smaller city.  I believe Kelowna is becoming an increasingly more hospitable community with a stronger and thriving Pride community, and a younger and more open-minded population. In other words, as we become a larger city ourselves, the support, education and understanding of the community increases. Much of this requires a shift in cultural and societal attitudes that take time and often begin with children, and our school system.

In School District 23, I would work to ensure that LGBTQ+ inclusion is part of all events, policy, and education, including sports and cultural events. Making inclusion part of the fabric of our community will hopefully encourage more young people to stay here and raise their own families.

  1. What is your position on uniformed RCMP presence in schools, specifically relating to LGBT2Q+ and QTIBIMPoC students?

As a member of a privileged part of society with very little personal experience with School Resource Officers (SROs) or police in general, I believe it is most important that I listen to the voices of others who are more directly impacted. My comments below reflect what I have heard so far.

  • According to the SD23 report that was just released, SROs spend half their time on “Education and Prevention”. This sounds like a good idea, but some have questioned why it requires a police officer to do this, rather than somebody specifically trained in that role.
  • An SRO is supposed to foster positive relationships with kids and teenagers, trying to reduce antagonism with the police by “humanizing” them and putting on a friendly face. However, this can be sharply at variance with the real-world experience people in some marginalized groups have with the police, so it can seem inauthentic no matter how well-intentioned the SRO themselves might be. The presence of an armed, uniformed police officer in the school can actually reduce the feeling of safety that LGBT2Q+ and QTIBIMPoC students have at school, which is the opposite of what we want.
  • On the other hand, an SRO can develop relationships with students whose circumstances make them vulnerable to "harmful" influences, and can try to help steer these students out of trouble, with potentially life-changing effects. This sounds like a positive purpose for having SROs.
  1. Ally is a verb. How would you specifically support our QTBIMPoC (Queer, Trans, Black, Mixed Race, Indigenous, People of Color), immigrants and refugees, and ensure they see themselves represented in our schools and community?

Kelowna has long lacked diversity so queer POC face multiple levels of discrimination and barriers to support. I would advocate for:

  • Increased training for staff and programs and resources to educate other students
  • Support for clubs and GSA’s for students to find community and friendship
  • Diversity options in curriculum resources especially continued indigenization of resources
  • Equity and Diversity hiring policies to improve representation in school staff
  • Policy-making that minimizes racism and other systemically oppressive language and practices.
  • Supporting and upholding our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, especially numbers 62 - 65 focussing on education.

As a privileged cis, straight, white man, I would continue working to uncover, examine, and dismantle my own biased beliefs and behaviours in order to enact real, measurable, systemic change.