This is a great place to start.
If you are new to SOGI issues or SOGI-inclusive work, this page will help orient you to some of the basics. Creating SOGI-inclusive schools will depend on all of us taking the next step in becoming more familiar with these ideas, so that we are all part of the conversation and taking action for change.
The Term "SOGI"
SOGI (pronounced so-jee) stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
Unlike the acronym LGBTQ+, SOGI is a subject or topic and not a list of specific identities. It is an inclusive term that is relevant to all individuals regardless of where they identify on the sexual orientation or gender identity spectrums, as every person has a sexual orientation and every person has a gender identity. It includes identities like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, heterosexual, cisgender, and more.
The primary focus of SOGI 1 2 3 is on terms and identities for people whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity is in the minority, because these people have historically been marginalized and often misunderstood.
We say a lot with our words.
Language is always evolving, and different people prefer different terms. However, some basic terminology is very useful. It is important to use correct terminology and mirror the language and pronouns people use for themselves.
The SOGI Spectrums
SOGI-inclusive education draws in part from what we have learned about ethnicity.
Similar to how ethnic identity is not as simple as black and white, gender identity is not as simple as male or female. It’s helpful to think of gender and sexuality not as a binary, but rather as a spectrum. Here are the SOGI spectrums:
Anatomical Sex (sex at birth)
Based on physiology including genitals, chromosomes and hormones, a baby is classified as ...
Gender Identity (begins early in life)
One’s internal sense or feeling of being a ...
Gender Expression (begins early in life)
How one presents themselves to others can be more...
Sexual Orientation (begins at puberty)
One can be physically and emotionally attracted to...
Frequently Asked Questions
Get Your Questions Answered
We hope this website can answer all your questions about SOGI 1 2 3. If you cannot find answers on this website, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Here are some frequently asked questions. You can also see the BC Ministry of Education SOGI In Schools factsheet and download our SOGI 1 2 3 Backgrounder below.
What is SOGI 1 2 3?
SOGI 1 2 3 connects educators to proven tools and resources for aligning schools with provincial policies protecting people of all sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI). SOGI 1 2 3 focuses on three key areas: (1) policies and procedures (e.g., a school's code of conduct), (2) inclusive environments (e.g., safe spaces and welcoming language), (3) curriculum resources (e.g., SOGI issues integrated into classroom learning). When all three pillars of SOGI-inclusive education are implemented, students have the opportunity to flourish.
Why SOGI 1 2 3?
Schools have the responsibility to pro-actively create safe, inclusive learning environments for all students—including students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Unfortunately, schools have not always been safe places for LGBTQ+ youth to be out or to be themselves. While this has been changing, and while a lot of great work has occurred over many years to improve the school experience of LGBTQ+ youth, there remains a need to work together to help ensure that teachers, principals, vice principals, and other adults who work directly with students in schools have access to tools, resources, and supports to help make a difference.
Who is behind SOGI 1 2 3?
SOGI 1 2 3 was created by ARC Foundation in collaboration with the BC Ministry of Education; BC Teachers’ Federation; school districts across BC; UBC Faculty of Education; education partners; and various local, national, and international LGBTQ+ community organizations. ARC Foundation has also entered a Western Canada educational partnership with three Alberta school districts to further SOGI 1 2 3’s efforts across Canada. Since starting work on SOGI-inclusive education in 2013, ARC Foundation has established partnerships with organizations aligned with this work through Memorandums of Understanding and/or Terms of Reference. ARC Foundation believes in collaborating with partners in the education system and community, and that change will happen if we work together.
What is ARC Foundation?
ARC Foundation is a private foundation based in Vancouver, BC, with virtual teams in other provinces. Established in 2007, ARC Foundation supports projects that (1) make the general population aware of the issues and impact of prejudice, (2) create an environment of respect through education, and (3) develop the capacity within those less tolerant for understanding and acceptance. It prioritizes projects with an LGBTQ+ focus, and have previously provided funding to groups such as St. Paul’s Hospital, Dr. Peter Aids Foundation and Covenant House. ARC Foundation currently leads SOGI 1 2 3, which is the result of over five years of collaboration projects with various local and international LGBTQ+ organizations. However, it relies on continued donations from other funders to deliver SOGI 1 2 3 in BC and across Canada.
What does it mean to have SOGI addressed in the curriculum?
There is no "SOGI curriculum"; SOGI is a thread that can be addressed throughout many subjects and topics. Teachers choosing to address SOGI in the curriculum is NOT about students developing a particular set of beliefs around sexual orientation and gender identity. It is about building understanding of the diverse society that we live in and learning to treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of our differences.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for the creation of BC curriculum. SOGI 1 2 3 provides ready-to-use, grade-level SOGI-inclusive lesson plans that align with that curriculum. Teachers can customize SOGI 1 2 3 lesson plans to meet the needs of their classrooms.
Does SOGI 1 2 3 only support LGBTQ+ students?
SOGI 1 2 3 provides tools and resources for creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for ALL students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Research shows that harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is experienced by approximately equal numbers of students who identify as LGBTQ+ and not LGBTQ+. This is because homophobia and transphobia can be directed at anyone and invariably have a negative effect on school culture, emotional well-being and academic success.
As a straight educator, with no experience in the LGBTQ+ community, can I really lead this work?
Yes, you can. Educators and staff at all levels of the system have a role to play regardless of their own sexual orientation and gender identity. There is a lot for students to learn from educators who identify as allies rather than members of the LGBTQ+ community. Also, everyone is at a different stage in their SOGI education journey. The pro-d resources are a great place to start if you feel you need to learn more before learning together with your students.
How is my school or district integrating SOGI education?
Each school district and independent school has the autonomy to set their own policies and procedures around SOGI education. Some, like Langley School District, have shared current information through their website. For further information, contact your school or district directly.
Can parents use this website?
Parents are encouraged to review all the information on this website to understand the tools and resources that are being shared with educators and to engage in conversation with their school. Parents looking for more of an in-depth learning experience are invited to view our Learning Modules.
Words from BC Education Partners
Meet Some of Our Education Partners
We thank all of our partners for their dedication and support, and look forward to the many others who will join this effort. Here are some of our partners' thoughts:
“As the SOGI leads for your school districts, your work is crucial in helping us ensure all students feel welcome in B.C.’s schools, regardless of who they identify as. SOGI 1 2 3 helps make sure B.C.’s schools are more inclusive environments and I want to thank you for supporting LGBTQ rights. It’s our responsibility to ensure schools are safe environments, where all people can express themselves without fear of discrimination or harassment. I am proud to support SOGI 1 2 3 and you should be commended for helping to make positive change in our schools.”
Honourable Rob Fleming, Minister of Education
“I think it would be safe to say that words on a paper or words on a website aren’t sufficient. It is the actions that go behind them. It is important that clear and comprehensive policies and procedures are developed to ensure that LGBTQ members of the community are safe and included. The BCTF is proud to have completed a lot of work in this area over the last couple of decades. We are very pleased to be partnering with the Ministry of Education and ARC Foundation.”
Glen Hansman, BC Teachers' Federation President
“Inclusion and Diversity are at the core of BCCPAC's guiding principles, and BCCPAC will continue to advocate for initiatives and processes that are designed not only to stop discrimination in our schools but also provide opportunities to unlearn discrimination. As we strive to protect the dignity and safety of all students, we are looking forward to working with our provincial partner groups to foster more SOGI inclusive school environments.”
Jen Mezei, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils President
“We applaud the work of all of our partners who support SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Education and initiatives, and recognize that our collective efforts will make a positive difference in the lives of many. In our changing world, it is critical that all schools and communities reflect and celebrate the diversity found within them, and the BCSSA is proud to be leading such positive and inclusive learning communities.”
Tom Longridge, BC School Superintendents Association President
“SOGI education is important to the BCSTA because at the heart of everything we do, is ensuring equitable access to education for all students. Ensuring that our LGBTQ students feel safe and included in the school environment helps them improve their student achievement and helps to improve all other student achievement.”
Stephanie Higginson, BC School Trustees Association Vice-President
“In my time as a school leader, it is one of those rare movements where I think the adults in schools are taking their cues from students. Kids understand the importance of this work and they want to ensure that everyone in their school feels included. The BCPVPA can take on a leadership role with regard to professional development and ensure that school leaders are knowledgeable in this area.”
Kevin Reimer, BC Principal's and Vice-Principal's Association President