Discussions locally, and across Canada, over Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) education, continue to drive support for acceptance.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Vernon joins School District 22 in its support for inclusivity, diversity, and the promotion of SOGI education.
“We understand the need for a safe and secure learning environment where students can access compassionate support,” said Jodi Cunningham, CMHA chair, in an open letter. “The voices of our youth are loud, and they demand their dignity and human rights to be preserved and free from discrimination, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“To our youth, we hear you. We see your strength and wholeheartedly support you and do not condone any actions that may compromise your safety.”
An anti-SOGI march, under the name Hands off Our Children, has been planned in Vernon for Sept. 20.
The organized march has sparked a swell of SOGI support from the Vernon Teachers’ Association, Vernon School District, CUPE 5523, local churches, and now CMHA.
“As a mental health organization, we see firsthand that SOGI education, gender-affirming practices and the fostering of a safe and protective environment not only promotes mental wellness, but directly saves lives,” Cunningham’s letter reads.
“We call on residents of North Okanagan to join us by listening to our youth and taking a firm stand against misinformation. The first step is to become informed by learning more about SOGI through credible, legitimate sources, such as SOGI 123.
“From there, open your heart. You will be amazed at where the journey takes you.”
CMHA is also offering support to those feeling affected by anti-SOGI actions and messaging:
• Interior Crisis Line Network (24/7): 1-888-353-2273
• Provincial Suicide Prevention Service- (24/7): 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-784-2433
• Mental Health Support Line (24/7): 310-6789
• Talk Suicide (24/7): 1-833-456-4566
• Talk Suicide Text (11am-11pm): 45645
• Kid’s Help Phone (24/7): 1-800-668-6868
• Kid’s Help Text (24/7): 686868
CMHA Vernon also provides several services and programs that support youth and families.