Carihi raised a rainbow flag for Campbell River alongside 49 other planned communities across Canada last week to commemorate 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality.
“At Carihi, we value diversity,” Carihi LGBT2 group sponsor and counsellor Barb Preston says. “This significant cultural event is taking place throughout the country.”
“Standing by our Colours” is a project recognized across Canada, and the raising of a flag within communities is a part of the celebrations.
Pierre Trudeau said “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of our nation” when his liberal government passed bill C-150 to legalize homosexual acts in private in 1969.
Grade 11 student Kailen Crosson says they are actually doing a unit on LGBT2 issues as part of her social justice class.
Along with a few classmates, they did research and made informational posters discussing the current issues facing this group that will be displayed around the school after they were held up at the ceremony.
“It is important to remember that, first of all, it was only 50 years ago,” Crosson says. “This was the first step forward 50 years ago and now we have to think about all the other steps that are taking place 40, 30, 20 years ago that are still going on.”
This flag is an addition to the other permanent feature of LGBT+ support at Carihi. Last year outdoor stairs were painted in rainbow, too.
“This building is a safe space,” Crosson says. “It lets you know that you and your rights are supported at the institutional level in this school.”
The flag hangs outside the main entrance to Carihi and vertically flies suspended from the building, it is not on the flag pole.
This is because School District 72 operational procedure 147, along with the School Act, limits schools to only flying the Canadian and British Columbian flag from poles.
“[Our principal] suggested that we hang it off the roof.” Preston said. “It would be visible and a nice colourful welcome to our building.”
Carihi’s LGBT2 group was proud to stand up alongside the raised flag and thanked junior leadership and a social justice class for their contributions to the ceremony.
The library learning commons at Carihi also has a display on to highlight its growing collection of LGBT+ books available.
“I am so proud of Campbell River and I am so proud and honoured to be here at Carihi today,” North Island Pride Society Education coordinator Sandra Weames said to the crowd gathered last week.
The LGBT2 group at Carihi is also something that she sponsors and she attends their meetings.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Weames said. “Today in Canada we are celebrating and we are letting the world know it is okay to be who you are.”
Weames mentioned the difficulties and trauma many people identifying as LGBT+ around the world are facing because of discrimination, laws, and prosecution.
“I am very impressed with Carihi in particular,” she said. “From the rainbow steps, from reaching out to Phoenix, to the students.”
She mentions that the feedback she has heard from LGBT+ students she has talked to in the halls who generally feel safe.
“That says a lot about Carihi and Campbell River,” she added.
The flag will be kept up temporarily and will be put back up before Campbell River Pride celebrations, which are scheduled for June 22 at Spirit Square.