Michael Boyd, 9, holds up a sign supporting SOGI123 in B.C. Schools. The Surrey boy came out as transgender to his family six years ago. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Michael Boyd, 9, holds up a sign supporting SOGI123 in B.C. Schools. The Surrey boy came out as transgender to his family six years ago. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

SIMPSON: Powerful placards best left out of tiny hands

Parents, stop trotting children out in front of reporters and TV cameras at protests and rallies

“Simpson,” Peter grunted as he passed my cubicle in a huff.

He pointed to his office with a stubby brownish-yellow finger, stained from decades of chain smoking.

“Get in here. Now.”

The late Peter Godfrey was the managing editor of the Nanaimo Daily News, where I was developing my journalistic chops at the night desk.

A former hard-nosed cop, Peter was the kind of editor every young, sensitive journalist fears.

Chewing out his staff in no uncertain terms was his modus operandi. His indignant rants were the stuff of legend.

One day, we watched with sordid bemusement as a fellow editor sat sheepishly in Peter’s office for three straight hours, facing Peter’s red-faced wrath.

And now, it would seem, it was my turn.

“What’s this?” he asked as he flopped the latest Daily News on his desk in disgust.

“Well, um,” I remember stuttering. “I guess it’s a story about a protest.”

Peter stared me down, his face turning a deeper crimson by the second.

“And the photo?” he replied.

“Well, it’s a photo of people holding signs at the…”

“IT’S A G__DDAMN KID!” Peter erupted.

“Don’t ever put a photo of a kid at a protest in my paper again, got it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Now get out.”

I escaped relatively easily that day but the lesson stuck.

Today, more and more parents are getting their children involved in political activism.

In the U.S. thousands of students recently picked up their hand-made posters and walked out of class in a nationwide protest against gun violence after the killing of 17 people in a Florida high school.

Closer to home, hundreds of people showed up to counter-protest an anti-SOGI 123 rally in Vancouver. Front and centre was a nine-year-old from Surrey.

And on the opposite side of that debate, a group of about 30 people – including young children – gathered in Chilliwack on Monday to protest the SOGI 123 program.

Up there in the big newsroom in the sky, Peter must be losing it. I can hear him now.

“How many of these kids fully understand these complex issues? How many are just parroting their parents’ political views?” I imagine him bellowing.

“And why are you splashing these kids all over your newspapers and websites?”


Granted, prickly Peter Godfrey was without a doubt what some might call old fashioned (to put it politely).

But I have since come to agree with him on this.

Of course, each situation is different and sometimes youngsters are there simply due to things like a lack of child care.

But, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum – and whether you applaud young people for getting involved or shake your head at their parents for allowing it –

it does raise a valid question.

How young is too young for parents to involve their children at a protest or rally, much less trot them out in front of reporters and TV cameras?

As for me? I side with you on this one, Peter.

So please, don’t yell at me.

Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. Email beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

protestSOGISOGI 123Surrey

Just Posted

Surrey council chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council endorses ‘public engagement’ strategy

Council approves ‘Public Engagement Strategy and Toolkit,’ and a ‘Big Vision, Bold Moves’ transportation public engagement plan

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $7.3 million contract for street paving projects

City council awarded Lafarge Canada Inc. $7,326,667.95 for 15 road projects in North Surrey and one in South Surrey

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Locke seeks breakdown on what Surreyites get for taxes paid to Metro Vancouver

Surrey councillor presented motion to council Monday asking city staff to do a cost/benefit analysis

1,001 Steps – along with Christopherson Steps – was closed by the City of Surrey last spring in an attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19. They are set to reopen this week, as a note on a city sign attests (inset). (File photo/Contributed photo)
South Surrey’s beach-access stairs set to reopen

Christopherson Steps, 1,001 Steps have been closed since April 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
SURREY NOW & THEN: Little Theatre’s 59-year history ends with big plans for move to Langley

A former church, the theatre building/property has sold for close to $900,000

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read