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June 2023

SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity. As we all have a sexual orientation and gender identity, it includes all of us. Everyone understands and expresses their gender differently, with interests and choices that are more or less common for their gender. Some students may be unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
Others may identify specifically as lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit or other. A SOGI-inclusive school means all of these experiences and identities are welcomed and should never be cause for discrimination. Being SOGI-inclusive means:
  1. Speaking about SOGI in a way that makes every student feel like they belong
  2. Not limiting a person's potential based on their biological sex and how they understand or express their gender
  3. Welcoming everyone without discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity
Schools have the legal responsibility to create safe, inclusive learning environments for all students and of course, we want all children to thrive within their schools and communities.
This Snapshot will help parents understand and navigate the ever evolving world of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

According to the Canadian Pediatric Society gender identity refers to the deep and intimate feeling a person has of themselves. Children begin to understand and express their gender identity early in life. 

Sex at birth: When children are born, sex is assigned based on external genitalia. A child who has a penis is said to be male. A child who has a vulva is said to be female. A child who is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't fit the description of “female” or “male is referred to as an intersex child.
Gender identity: Gender identity is “who you know yourself to be”. It is important to know that gender identity exists on a spectrum. A person‘s gender identity can be masculine, feminine, or other.

Gender expression: This is how you express your gender to others, whether through behaviour, clothing, hairstyle, the name you choose to go by, etc. Words to describe someone‘s gender expression could be “masculine,” “feminine,” “androgynous,” etc.
Transgender: When a person‘s gender identity is not the same as the assigned sex at birth, they may be referred to as “transgender” (often shortened to “trans”). For example, a child born with female genitalia may identify as a boy. A child may also say that they are not a boy or a girl, but just “themselves” because they don‘t want their sexual characteristics to define who they are. Some cultures and Indigenous people use the term “two-spirit” to represent a person who embodies both a masculine and feminine spirit.  Two-spiritedness has many subtleties of a spiritual and cultural nature.

Gender dysphoria: Describes the level of discomfort or suffering that can exist when there is conflict between the assigned sex at birth and gender identity. Some transgender children experience no distress about their bodies, while others may express significant discomfort. This distress can be more obvious as puberty begins and the body starts to change.

Gender-creative children express their gender differently from what society may expect. For example, a boy who wants to wear dresses might be considered “gender-creative”. Society‘s expectations for gender constantly change and vary in different cultures and at different times in history.
How does gender identity develop?
Here is what you can typically expect at different ages:
2 to 3 years old:...

Pre-teens and teens continue to develop their gender identity through personal reflection and with input from their social environment, like peers, family and friends.

Some gender-stereotyped behaviours may appear. You may notice your teen or pre-teen making efforts to “play up" or "downplay" some of their body‘s physical changes.

As puberty begins, some youth may realize that their gender identity is different from their assigned sex at birth. However most children will continue to have a gender identify that matches the one assigned at birth.
Toilets, Bowties, Gender and Me 
During adolescence, teens learn to relate to their peers as potential romantic or sexual partners. This is a normal part of teen development. Sexual orientation refers to sexual or emotional attraction that one feels for another person. Teens have a sexual orientation even if they aren‘t sexually active yet. People usually consider themselves in one of the following ways:
  • Heterosexual means attracted to people of the opposite sex. Sometimes this is called “straight”
  • Lesbian refers to women attracted to other women.
  • Gay usually refers to men attracted to other men, but can also be used to describe women attracted to women. 
  • Bisexual means attracted to two or more sexes. 
  • Pansexual means attraction where sex, gender or gender identity isn't taken into account. 
  • Demisexual means not experiencing sexual attraction unless there is a strong emotional connection.
  • Asexual means lack of sexual attraction to others.
When people reveal they are non-heterosexual, it is often called “coming out.” The process of discovering sexual orientation can start:
  • with fantasies or dreams,
  • when a person realizes they are attracted to someone of the same gender,
  • with a feeling that they are different from friends and classmates, and/or
  • with a sexual experience. 
These feelings can cause uncertainty for a young person, which could be made worse by:
  •  the social stigma that can come with being non-heterosexual,
  • a lack of knowledge,
  • a fear of how friends and family might react,
  • a fear of being rejected by friends and family,
  • a lack of non-heterosexual role models, or
  • having few opportunities to socialize with other teens with similar feelings.
More terms associated with sexual and gender identities.
An estimated 1 million people in Canada are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or of another sexual orientation other than heterosexual - representing 4% of the Canadian population aged 15 years and older. 

Looking at gender diversity, about 100,815 people in Canada are transgender accounting for 0.33% of the population aged 15 years and over. 

Canada at a Glance 2022 LGBTQ2+ people
Exploring how you identify and who you are sexually attracted to is a normal part of childhood development. If your child is questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation it can be challenging and overwhelming to navigate the journey. However, it's important to remember that love, acceptance, and support are the foundations of a strong parent-child relationship. Take the time to educate yourself, seek out resources and support networks. Be there to listen, understand, and embrace your child for who they are, providing them with a safe and loving environment where they can freely express themselves. Below are some resources you may find useful.
Exposure to different people is an important practice and can normalize diversity. However research shows that regular proximity to individuals that are different from you does not automatically result in inclusion. In other words, inclusion is not a natural consequence of diversity.

Inclusion is the active engagement and participation of all people. It requires an intentional focus on creating an environment in which any individual or group feels welcomed and able to fully contribute.

Students may be accepting of the many different individuals at school, however they may not be inclusive. This poster demonstrates the difference between diversity and inclusion. 
This is our last Snapshot for the 2022-23 school year!

We will resume the Snapshots in September 2023, until then we hope you and your family have a summer filled with all things that bring you joy!

We strive to create a quality newsletter that supports parents and caregivers in one of the most challenging, and also one of most rewarding jobs - raising children!

If you would like to share any final feedback for this year, we would love to hear from you!

SOGI 123 BC Government
Gender and Sexuality Resources
Caring For Kids
Coming Out

In case you missed it ... last  months Snapshot was on Helping Teens Manage Change!

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