After anti-SOGI controversy, Surrey councillor resigns as Autism B.C. director

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      After a public outcry, a Surrey councillor has stepped down from her role as director of a non-profit autism organization due to her affiliation with groups against sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) resources in schools.

      News 1130 reported on November 8 that two elected city councillors, Laurie Guerra and Steven Pettigrew, attended a post-election celebration held on November 6 for candidates and campaigns against SOGI 123 in B.C. schools, or resources to address LGBT issues.

      Groups reported to have attended the event included Culture Guard, B.C. Parents Voice, Let's Vote Association, Canadian Council for Faith and Family, Parents United Canada, 700 Honour Foundation, and Youth 4 Canada.

      In response to the news that Guerra, who was also an Autism B.C. director, was also in attendance, a petition was launched, gathering over 1,300 signatures, to demand that Guerra be removed from Autism B.C.'s board of directors immediately.

      "When you represent an organization that advocates for children with special needs, you stand for protecting all children including those in the LQBTQ + community," the petition states. "It should be mandatory that Autism BC chooses directors who represent values of kindness, love, and acceptance to all marginalized communities."

      On November 9, BCedAcess, which advocates for inclusive education and represents over 1,500 members families, sent an open letter to Autism B.C. to express concerns about Guerra's association with anti-SOGI groups.

      The letter pointed out that they had previously sent Autism B.C. a letter in July with similar concerns about Guerra's anti-SOGI stance.

      "Sexual orientation and gender identity are not personal choices nor a political position," the BCedAccess letter stated. "They are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act."

      On November 10, AutismBC president Gary Robins issued a response, stating that "the views and opinions made by directors and staff of AutismBC do not necessarily reflect the views of AutismBC". He also added that "as a non-profit organization we are determined to remain apolitical and not have a role in advocacy at a political level of any kind".

      Today (November 13), Robins posted a statement on their website acknowledging that the organization had been receiving messages of concern about AutismBC.

      "The concerns raised against AutismBC are unfounded, as our values are and have always been founded on inclusivity for all people," Robins stated.  "We are deeply concerned about the undue stress this situation has caused and want to reiterate again the personal views of one director does not reflect the views of the board or the organization."

      Robins also stated that Guerra had resigned as a director of the organization on November 12.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at @StraightLGBT or on Facebook.