A South Surrey father is wondering about the Surrey school district’s policies about presentations including sexual content, after his daughter, 11, came home with some questions following a Feb. 1 presentation at Crescent Park Elementary.
Gord Cooper said he and his wife had no prior notification that their daughter, who is in Grade 6, would be attending such a presentation, as they had not been given an email or any documentation beforehand.
“My daughter was discussing this with me yesterday, saying, ‘Why was there a woman who had a beard and a voice like a man?’” he said.
“They were talking about hormone treatment and surgeries… nobody knew about it. There was no forewarning of anything.”
Surrey Schools associate director of communications services Ritinder Matthew said the school engaged two speakers who presented to Grade 6 and 7 students on Feb. 1 “about human connections and the importance of empathy and inclusivity.”
“The speaker challenged students to be non-judgmental and focus on the impact we can have on one another through small acts of kindness. The key takeaway of the presentation was to always consider the impact that words can have on others,” she said in an email.
“The presentation was delivered by two 2SLGBTQ+ facilitators who shared their personal experiences with discrimination and how they persevered and found confidence in their identity,” she added, noting that classroom teachers were present during the presentation “and were able to support the speaker in thoughtfully engaging the students about the topics being discussed.”
Cooper wondered why there was no notification prior to the presentation.
“When they have sex ed classes at the school for Grade 6s and 7s, they always send documentation home,” he said.
“They ask the parents to submit this documentation authorizing that their kids can attend or not attend based on whatever their preference is,” but did not do the same in this case, he noted.
Matthew said the presentation was not considered sexual health.
“The content of this presentation was not sexual health and so a consent form was not sent to parents,” she said in her email.
“Student wellbeing, equity and inclusivity are key priorities for our district, and this presentation was consistent with these values.”