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SD 71 denounces Abbotsford anti-SOGI group for promoting NIDES in ad

Comox Valley Schools management says group is using NIDES intellectual property without approval
NIDES has been used in the promotion of an anti-SOGI Zoom meeting without the permission of SD 71. Google Maps photo

A Lower Mainland anti-SOGI 123 group is promoting the North Island Distance Education School format, unbeknownst to School District 71, which runs the program.

The ad, posted to a Facebook page, invited all B.C. parents and teachers to attend a Zoom conference set for May 5, titled “NIDES: AN INNOVATION FOR LEARNING.”

The guest speaker, Laura Gebbinck, is from the Columbia Health and Wellness Society of B.C. and suggests she will “provide insight on Nides (sic), the process, and answer any questions you may have.”

When contacted by the Record, Gebbinck declined an interview, although did offer some information about the program.

“We are only sharing information about enrolled homeschooling through Heartwood Learning Community in SD71,” she wrote in an email. “We share information about homeschooling, the different types, which schools, including independent, private and public school options. We’re not running the program; the school, teacher and parents do. We just inform families of various options for them to consider. I spoke with the principal twice and he’s expecting an increase in inquiries after my Zoom information meeting and wished me well.”

This invitation to an anti-SOGI 123 event was posted on social media, using NIDES material to promote it.

Comox Valley Schools (SD 71) administration said the school district has nothing to do with the presentation and has reached out to organizers to remove all references to NIDES.

“NIDES administration recently learned about a group using the school’s namesake in promotions of an online event that stands against the values of the school and district,” reads an SD 71 statement sent to the Record. “NIDES’s administration requested the group stop doing so immediately, and to stop inferring that the school has any involvement or affiliation, implied or otherwise.

“Comox Valley Schools and NIDES stand unwavering in our values, including our commitment to ensuring all 2SLGBTQAI+ students and staff feel safe and supported in our schools. We are committed to fostering spaces that embrace SOGI education, inclusion, diversity, and safety for all students.”

SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) is an education platform adopted by all 60 school districts in the province. Operating a homeschooling option through a Ministry of Education platform (such as Navigate NIDES) that is non-compliant with SOGI education would be a conflict to the values of all B.C. school districts.

The Record has contacted the Ministry of Education to inquire whether provincial funding would be available for a program that is in non-compliance with the B.C. SOGI education platform.

The poster for the event also uses the NIDES website home page as a backdrop, and the Heartwood Learning Community has a portal on the Navigate NIDES website.

According to a release by SD 71, Heartwood Learning Communities are blended programs in numerous locations around B.C. Teachers are hired within each location so they can offer some face-to-face instruction in addition to supporting a home learning program.

While there are numerous Heartwood Learning Community locations throughout the province, SD 71 said any group non-compliant with SOGI 123 values would not be allowed to use the platform.

“NIDES and SD 71 (screen) all groups interested in operating a Heartwood Learning Community,” said SD 71 communications manager Craig Sorochan. “ We will not allow groups (that) are not aligned with our values and policies to operate a Heartwood Learning Community site.

“The anti-SOGI group promoting the information session in question is not associated with NIDES and would not be allowed to operate a Heartwood Learning Community site. We have asked them to immediately stop associating their group with NIDES and the Heartwood Learning Community.”

The event host posted the invite on social media, saying, “Our goal is to provide guidance on how to protect your children from harmful influences and promote a more traditional approach to education, free from radical gender ideology.”

The invite says the event is “For teachers who are interested in teaching in smaller groups, avoiding topics such as SOGI and pronouns…” as well as “For parents who are seeking a more traditional education for their children, emphasizing core subjects like reading, writing and math, without the influence of indoctrination…”

It also suggests teachers would be “receiving full compensation including salary, pension, and benefits covered by the school district.”

Terry Farrell

About the Author: Terry Farrell

Terry returned to Black Press in 2014, after seven years at a daily publication in Alberta. He brings 24 years of editorial experience to Comox Valley Record...
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