Central Albertans are silently protesting Red Deer Public Schools’ decision to not recognize Pride Week.
Last month, the RDPS board of trustees received criticism from the LGBTQ community after rejecting a district-wide Pride Week in favour of a Diversity Week.
The Black and Indigenous Alliance Alberta began hosting a week of silent protests outside of the public school’s division office Wednesday. The protests continued Thursday and Friday, and will run until next Wednesday.
“A lot of folks think diversity equals equality, and it doesn’t,” said Kisha Daniels, BIA co-founder.
“You can diversify things, but that doesn’t mean the environment is inclusive. It totally neglects the histories, the trials and triumphs of the queer community.”
Daniels was disappointed to see the school board vote against recognizing Pride Week.
“I have two queer children, so I was bothered by it. I know what they went through in school, so I really wish schools would understand what inclusivity means,” said Daniels.
Each protest is being held from 3-5 p.m. at the division office at 4747 53 St., to show support for the LGBTQ+ communities.
Red Deer Public Schools acknowledged the protest in a statement Friday morning.
“We appreciate the right to peaceful protests and public gatherings, and we respect the opinions expressed of others,” the statement said, adding the board of trustees has listened to significant feedback on this decision and recognizes the perspectives expressed on this matter across our community.
On Wednesday, protesters placed signs, posters, heart shaped messages and other drawings at the entrance of the Central Services building, the statement said.
“All items were removed, but retained, to be shared with the board of trustees. A colourful chalk design was also drawn on the sidewalk at the front entrance which has been left in place.”
Representatives from the Black and Indigenous Alliance have been approved to speak with the board, the school statement said.
“Red Deer Public Schools works in cooperation with the Red Deer RCMP who were aware of the protests and approached the division. The Community Policing Section of the RCMP, which includes School Resource Officers, who work in our schools, was on site for a short period of time to ensure everything went smoothly.”
Saturday’s protest will feature speakers to educate others on queer issues. On Tuesday there will be a pride party. All attendees are asked to wear masks and keep a respectable distance from each other due to COVID-19.