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Armstrong hall denies SOGI forum rental application

Organizers of the forum on sexual orientation and gender identity appear to be having difficulties finding a host for the event
This poster advertises a forum on SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) that was to take place in Vernon on Jan. 6, 2024. The event was then rescheduled for Jan. 13, but the board of directors at the Hullcar Hall in Armstrong decided to cancel the event. (Facebook photo)

A forum to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in B.C. schools was supposed to take place in the North Okanagan in the coming days, but the event organizers appear to be having trouble finding a venue to host the event.

The forum purported to represent both sides of the contentious issue and was originally set to be held at the Vernon Riviera Conference Centre on Jan. 6. However, the conference centre’s general manager says that while organizers inquired about hosting the event there, the event wasn’t booked because Riviera is transitioning to new ownership and the conference centre is undergoing maintenance.

The event was then scheduled to take place at the Hullcar Hall in Armstrong on Jan. 13. However, those plans have also fallen through.

David Doran, president of the Hullcar Hall, said the hall’s board of directors decided to cancel the event.

Doran declined to comment on why the board decided not to host the event at the community hall.

“The board of directors reserve our right to deny applications, and that’s what we’ve done,” he said.

Doran said he did not know if the event has been cancelled outright, only that it won’t be rescheduled at the Hullcar Hall at a later date.

The SOGI forum was to be part of the For the Sake of the Children tour, with a poster for the event stating: “SOGI: What is it, Who is it, Why is it?”

SOGI 123 has been a resource in B.C. schools since 2016. It is a set of tools and resources outside the school curriculum designed to reduce bullying while fostering inclusive classrooms.

SOGI came under fire in September when 1 Million March 4 Children — the group that helped organize the now cancelled Armstrong forum — spearheaded protests against SOGI in Vernon and elsewhere in B.C., claiming to stand for parental rights.

While the SOGI forum purported to be an event where both sides of the debate over SOGI’s place in B.C. schools would be represented, Vernon Pride Society president Abbie Wilson pointed out that the pride society wasn’t invited, and all three speakers listed for the event — former Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld, Pierre Barnes and Ronnie Herman — have previously spoken out against SOGI.

It is unclear if the forum will go ahead with a new date and venue. The Morning Star has reached out to the speakers and organizers of the event for comment.

READ MORE: Anti-SOGI voices prominent in Vernon forum purporting to represent both sides

READ MORE: Vernon teacher explains what SOGI is, and why it’s needed

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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