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Delta Pride Society hosts webinar update on progress being made for LGBTQ2S+ community

Government and school board officials shared what work has been done to make Delta, the province and the country more inclusive, welcoming and safe for the community
Delta Pride Society webinar
Carla Qualtrough, George Harvie, Grace Lore, Ravi Kahlon and Val Windsor virtually gathered to share what they themselves, or the leaders around them are doing to make the community more inclusive, diverse and safe for 2SLGBTQ+ folks.

Banning conversion therapy, no longer requiring physician or psychologist confirmation to change gender designations on birth certificates and removing gendered language from policies were some of the progress updates shared at a recent Delta Pride Society webinar

Delta MP Carla Qualtrough, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity of B.C. and MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill Grace Lore, Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon, Mayor George Harvie and Delta School Board chair Val Windsor presented what they’ve worked on to make Delta and beyond a safer, more inclusive and welcoming space for the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“We see the devastation in Ukraine, we see the things that happening in the States – going backwards with the rights of transgender people – and we just see these things that are really threatening to the LGBTQ community, to their livelihood, to their marriages, their relationships, their human rights. It’s important for people to see what’s happening locally, and be able to encourage the community,” said Delta Pride Society’s vice president Christa Horita Kadach in a follow-up interview with the Optimist.

Qualtrough highlighted the passing of Bill C-4, which banned conversion therapy in Canada in December last year. The bill makes it a criminal offence to cause somebody to undergo conversion therapy, to send a child out of the country to receive it, to promote or advertise it and to receive financial or material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy.

“This is a really important milestone for LGBTQ2S+ rights, and I thank all of you here who laid the important foundation for this to be able to happen in our country,” she said.

Lore spoke about the B.C. government no longer requiring physician or psychologist confirmation for a person 12 or older to change their gender designation on birth certificates, which came into effect Jan. 10, 2022.

Once folks receive their new birth certificate, they can change the designation on their BC Services card from there.

Harvie highlighted the seven rainbow benches outside of Delta facilities, how the city raises the Pride flag every June in honour of Pride month and their support of LGBTQ+ local non-profit organizations that work to address racism and celebrate diversity.

“We have undertaken staff training on a number of these fronts, and while we have made these efforts, we acknowledge we must continue to learn and grow,” he said.

The city had an equity, diversity and inclusion audit done on their policies and practices to identify areas for improvement and Harvie established the Mayor’s Task Force on Inclusion and Anti-Racism to help review and make changes to their existing policies.

Kahlon pointed to his work when he was first elected to re-establish an independent Human Rights Commission for the province and his current work in removing gendered language from legislation and regulations within government.

“Wishing we have a more inclusive community does not make it so. It requires real work, it requires real commitment and it requires all the faces that you’re seeing from different levels of government working together, and that’s what we’re seeing today, but we have a lot more work to do and it couldn’t be possible without the Delta Pride Society,” he said.

Within Delta schools, Windsor explained the work that sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) coordinator Trevana Spilchen, has done to make schools a safer place for LGBTQ2S+ students and staff since 2017.

Spilchen and their team, among other accomplishments, have created 16 different novel toolkits for English and Social Justice teachers to appropriately introduce and explore the themes in these books, a guideline on how to support trans and gender queer students and continue to offer ongoing training and education to parents and school staff.

Windsor also said that all Delta schools have at least one gender-neutral washroom and participate in Pride week, where GSAs within the schools plan Pride-related events to celebrate within schools.

“Big goals for the next school year. We hope to meet our goal next year of implementing training modules for all Delta district staff. This would be for all staff across all departments in the district. It’s a huge initiative, but it is a commitment in our procedure, and it is very important to sustaining and continuing the gains that we feel we’re making,” she said.