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VIDEO: Anti-SOGI camp protest outside B.C. high school, from a distance

New provincial legislation enacts ‘access zones’ where ‘harmful’ protesters are not allowed

A few protesters positioned themselves outside a Surrey high school Monday afternoon, largely targeting a teacher at the school, even after provincial legislation was passed to increase safety on school property in the presence of protesters.

With shouting and posters advocating against Pride flags in schools, transgender children and more, a handful of anti-SOGI protesters were seen at Surrey’s L.A. Matheson Secondary, across the street. Police officers with Surrey RCMP were on-site.

A few of the protesters were also calling on teacher Annie Ohana to exit the school building to meet with them.

“I certainly have no urge to engage with people who engage in violent rhetoric. I am not stepping outside,” Ohana said to Peace Arch News over the phone, while in the school building.

Anti-SOGI 123 protesters were outside Surrey’s L.A. Matheson Secondary on Monday afternoon (June 3) to begin their protests scheduled for most of Pride Month. (Sobia Moman photo)

One of the protesters outside, who did not provide their name, said they would like to speak with Ohana because she is a prominent 2sLGBTQIA+ advocate in education and has “spoken against” the anti-SOGI crowd.

With recent legislation, all people protesting near schools have to follow certain steps, with potential penalties including fines and arrests for anyone failing to meet the measures. Those include remaining at a minimum distance of 20 metres from school property, not disrupting or interfering with educational activities or “attempting to intimidate an individual” inside the no-access zone, reads a news release.

“Every kid and teacher in our province has the right to go to school without being disrupted by aggressive or hateful protests,” Premier David Eby said.

“Our government is taking action to protect kids and ensure schools remain safe spaces by establishing no-go zones for protesters. I want people who think it’s OK to intimidate or harass kids while they’re trying to learn or play at school to know that what you’re doing is now illegal.”

The release also mentions that 20 school sites in the province have been targeted with protests, leading the government to enact this policy as of May 16. While not specifically saying whether these were anti-SOGI protests, the group at L.A. Matheson has previously protested at that site and other schools.

While inside the school, Ohana said she witnessed a few students asking police officers on-scene to assist in escorting them outside the school as the protest was happening. Although on leave for bereavement, the teacher said it was important for her to be there that day.

Ohana also said the protesters attempted to come closer to the school and were told to step back onto the sidewalk by police.

Anti-SOGI 123 protesters were outside Surrey’s L.A. Matheson Secondary on Monday afternoon (June 3) to begin their protests scheduled for most of Pride Month. Surrey RCMP vehicles could be seen on-site as officers were positioned in front of the school while the protest was happening. (Sobia Moman photo)

Surrey RCMP would not confirm whether these incidents occurred but said that School Resource Officers (SROs) were on-site to ensure the group remained at the required distance.

No fines were issued and no arrests were made, Sgt. Tammy Lobb confirmed.

In a schedule of the protests sent to Black Press Media, the group is planning protests for most of June, as it is Pride Month. A Surrey City Hall Pride event on Saturday (June 1) also saw the group of protesters.

“I’m as angry as always … trans and queer folk are under attack,” Ohana said.

“This move by the provincial government tells you how dangerous this movement is.”

While students passed by the protest to enter the school, they told Ohana that the signs the protesters were carrying were wrong, adding, “This is bullying.” This response from students made the teacher proud, she said.

“We have told the kids to use the doors they feel comfortable with. … I would not be taking kids outdoors right now.”

Ohana said she only teaches subjects that are within the B.C. curriculum and any concerns parents have about the topics their children are being taught in her classroom can always be discussed with her.

Anti-SOGI 123 protesters were outside Surrey’s L.A. Matheson Secondary on Monday afternoon (June 3) to begin their protests scheduled for most of Pride Month. A sign on the outside of the school building highlights “diversity” and “community.” (Sobia Moman photo)

“What I do not approve of is the language being used and the lies being told and people being criticized for how they were born,” she emphasized.

In a statement from the Surrey school district, it says the new legislation is a welcome move made by the government.

“Anti-SOGI123 and anti-Pride Month protests reportedly planned outside our schools can also have an emotional impact, particularly on the 2SLGBTQ+ members of our school communities,” the statement says.

“While we are encouraging our staff to check in on colleagues and students, we appreciate the provincial government’s commitment to helping us maintain an inclusive environment where our staff, students and parents feel safe and welcome.”

Sobia Moman

About the Author: Sobia Moman

Sobia Moman is a news and features reporter with the Peace Arch News.
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