Back in 1997 I joined the SFU queer group to protest the blatantly ideological and oppressive banning of gay children’s books by the mostly right-wing Surrey school board. It was a frustrating and infuriating experience because the board ignored us, ignored all protestors, and just went on with their censorship. (Though there is a happy ending: a few years later (and a round in Canada’s Supreme Court), the ban was overturned)
This is not 1997, and this was not Surrey. On June 14, the Burnaby school board voted on an anti-homophobia and anti-heterosexism policy, and a rally in support was planned. Now, there had already been pro-homophobia rallies, so would we have to face a counter-rally? In a way I kind of wanted one: let’s be honest, part of me likes a clear-cut, good-vs-evil confrontation every now and then.
No homophobes showed up that day, though, except that one guy from the Mormon church across the street, probably looking to see what all the noise was about. Instead there was dancing and singing and beautiful inspirational speeches, by David C Jones, Spencer & Romi Chandra Herbert, and parents or kids from Burnaby gay-straight alliances. The weather was overcast and cool-ish, but the rain held out. Still by 7 (when the board actually met to vote), the entertainment was over and I was ready to go. I (and the 150–200 others) had done all we could, now it was up to the trustees to do the right thing.
Which they did, unanimously. Now bigotry has lost a battle, and queer/trans kids will be a bit safer, at least in Burnaby.