Out in Schools, a youth-outreach group striving to end homophobia and bullying in B.C., has responded to a human-rights complaint filed by conservative activist Kari Simpson.
Simpson has complained to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal about how the Vancouver school board is waging its fight against bullying. She has accused the school board of promoting hatred against Christians and other religious groups by using the Out in Schools antibullying program and similar resources.
Out in Schools is not named as a respondent in the complaint. However, Simpson argues videos and other content used by the group “deliberately mock Christians” and “undermine religious dictates and cultural values”.
“We view this complaint as most members of the public do; as a distraction, and a terrible waste of public resources,” Ross Johnstone, Out in Schools director of education, said in a statement today (April 19).
Based in Vancouver, Out in Schools works with high schools across the province to show films and lead student discussions about homophobia and bullying.
“Since 2004, Out in Schools has been celebrated by parents, educators, and students—we are a trusted resource because the films we screen are age-appropriate, relevant, and meet Ministry of Education-prescribed learning outcomes,” Johnstone said.
Out in Schools also took issue with Simpson’s objection to the use of terms like homophobe and homophobia, which she describes as “slurs” and “made-up words”.
“As anyone with a dictionary published after 1969 knows, the word ‘homophobia’ has a clear definition. The fact that this complaint exists underscores the need for more education around bullying and homophobia,” Johnstone said.
The school board declined to respond today to the allegations in the complaint because it is a legal matter.