The 26th annual Victoria Pride Parade filled downtown streets with glitter, music, rainbows and joy Sunday morning. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Opinion: Red Deer Public School division needs to have Pride Week

To err is human.

We have often heard that adage.

But the Red Deer Public School board’s recent decision, to not have a district-wide Pride Week, no longer seems like an error in judgment.

The school board trustees had the chance to reconsider their original decision, when presentations were made by the members of the LGBTQ community and their allies at a school board meeting on March 10.

The school division closed the door on Pride Week in mid-February when it opted instead for a Diversity Week. The motion by one of the trustees to establish Pride Week was defeated 2-4. A motion for a Diversity Week later passed 4-2.

There is plenty of debate on this decision. Some feel a division-wide Diversity Week, which would be inclusive of everyone, should be enough and sends a message that everyone is important – that giving the LGBTQ youth ‘special treatment’ is not the way to go.

This ongoing debate reminds us of what we saw worldwide and even in Red Deer last summer. Black Lives Matter movement advocates took to downtown Red Deer streets while the All Lives Matter group held counter protests.

When people celebrate Pride Week or stand up for the Black Lives Matter movement they aren’t saying that other people don’t matter or aren’t as important. It isn’t about elevating one group over another. They are asking that we, as a community, recognize the unique struggles these groups continue to face.

Put it this way: We celebrate Mother’s Day in May every year by making her breakfast and showering her with presents and love. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love our moms on the other 364 days of the year, does it? Or that we love mom more than we love dad?

On its own, there’s nothing wrong with a district-wide Diversity Week celebration. But to compare Diversity and Pride Week, as if one makes up for the other, or to marry the two, is a mistake.

Kristopher Wells, associate professor at MacEwan University, who specializes in sexual and gender minority youth and education, puts it well. He told the Advocate trying to lump everything into a catch-all Diversity Week does a disservice to everyone.

“It’s sort of a bland, generic approach that we might have seen 10 or 15 years ago. Right now we understand the specificity and importance of celebrating the unique identity and cultures of the students who attend our schools. That’s exactly why Pride Week exists.”

Some argue schools should focus on learning and a celebration such as Pride Week shouldn’t be on the table. Although, math and English would be the primary focus of any school, those making this argument need to see that students spend a lot of time at schools, with their peers, where they also learn other skills beyond math and English. They learn about respect, team work, socialization skills and so on.

Unfortunately, they may also come face-to-face with their bully on school grounds.

According to Egale, Canada’s national LGBTQ+ human rights organization, 37 per cent of trans students and 21 per cent of sexual minority students reported being physically harassed or assaulted because of their gender expression. This was seen in the Every Class in Every School Report 2011 available on egale.ca/every-class/.

Thoughts of suicide and suicide-related behaviours are more frequent among LGBTQ youth in comparison to their non-LGBTQ peers, reports Statistics Canada.

According to a fact sheet available on Egale.ca, about 33 per cent of LGB youth have attempted suicide in comparison to seven per cent of youth in general (Saewyc 2007).

These statistics are grim and should show the need for a Pride Week.

A week-long Pride Week can offer LGBTQ youth a safe space to be able to express themselves freely without any judgment.

For others, it can provide an opportunity to show solidarity so together we can have conversations around the movement, educate ourselves and overcome the stigma.

The fact that we are still having to debate this issue today shows us just how badly we need Pride Week in our schools and community.

Mamta Lulla is managing editor at the Red Deer Advocate.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo
City of Red Deer expediting patio application process for restaurants

The City of Red Deer is allowing businesses to install patios prior… Continue reading

RDC Queens forward Camryn Wallan was named the 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Wallan, Podgorenko named 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Athletes of the Year

Even with the cancellation of the 2020-21 Alberta Colleges Athletic Association, RDC… Continue reading

A new Angus Reid poll says that close to two-thirds of Albertans think premier Jason Kenney is doing a bad job handling the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
75% of Albertans disapprove of Kenney’s pandemic leadership: poll

Nearly 75 per cent of Albertans believe Premier Jason Kenney is doing… Continue reading

Alberta reported its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since December 16 on Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Alberta reports 1,521 additional COVID-19 cases, 674 new variant cases

Daily case total the highest since mid-December

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is seen in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. The University of Victoria and the head coach of its women's rowing team have denied allegations of demeaning and aggressive treatment outlined in a lawsuit filed last summer by a former student and team member. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Canada's Julia Grosso, right, and Wales' Natasha Harding battle for the ball during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday, April 9, 2021. Canada blanked Wales 3-0 but lost captain Christine Sinclair to an injury in the fist half of a soccer friendly Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-PA, Nick Potts
Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada's DTH Van Der Merwe, left, is tackled by Hong Kong's Toby Fenn, during the 2019 Japan Rugby Union World Cup qualifying match between Canada and Hong Kong, in Marseille, southern France, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Claude Paris
Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher, right, makes a shot as second Brad Thiessen sweeps against Germany at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Justin Rose, of England, hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 9, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

People shop for essential items at Costco as pallets block off aisles and sections that have been deemed non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, April 8, 2021. Retailers in Ontario are adjusting to new lockdown restrictions with stores like grocers, discount and big box chains roping off non-essential items from underwear to calculators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto on January 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls, Statistics Canada says

Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls, Statistics Canada says

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 30, 2021 file photo, a banner encouraging workers to vote in labor balloting is shown at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. Vote counting in the union push in Bessemer is expected to start as early as Thursday, April 8, but hundreds of contested ballots could muddy the outcome if it’s a close race. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)
Amazon warehouse workers reject union bid in Alabama

Amazon warehouse workers reject union bid in Alabama

Most Read