The Vancouver School Board (VSB) held “Vancouver’s first-ever anti-homophobia conference for students” at Queen Mary Elementary School on Wednesday, March 24, 2010.
“The conference will focus on the experiences, needs and plans of students to address homophobia and gender stereotypes in their schools,” said Steve Mulligan, VSB’s anti-homophobia and diversity coordinator, prior to the event. “The conference will include students from around the Lower Mainland (and as far away as Campbell River), who want to make their schools more inclusive.”
The event was co-sponsored by four homosexualist advocacy groups: Day of Pink, Jer’s Vision, Out in Schools, and Qmunity Gab Youth, as well as the Vancouver School Board, and “was designed to promote diversity, address discrimination against queer youth and create safer schools,” according to the homosexual newspaper Xtra!
A press release from the VSB stated that a focus of the meeting was to encourage students to start homosexual clubs at their schools in order to combat “homophobia.”
“Having a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club is an important step in communicating to staff and students that all students will be safe and free from this type of harassment,” said Mulligan.
The six-hour conference, held during regular school hours from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, included plays and comedy routines as well as workshops on such topics as “self esteem and healthy sexuality through drama,” “BC’s Queer History Through Media,” and a “panel discussion on gender identity and stereotypes.”
The “one-man play” was a performance of “Nggrfg” by Berend McKenzie, whose earlier works include an X-rated puppet show titled Get Off the Cross, Mary! that ran at the 2007 Vancouver Fringe Festival and featured re-enactments of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, where McKenzie had the puppet Jesus character say being crucified was like “losing your virginity on prom night, except with a little more blood.”
Speakers at the event included Janine Fuller, manager of Little Sister’s sex shop and pornographic bookstore; Morgan Brayton, a columnist for homosexual newspaper Xtra! West, who in a 2006 column detailed her experience in a public orgy; lesbian comedienne Kimothy Shaughnessy and Vancouver Pride Society president Ken Coolen.
VSB school board chair Patti Bacchus told the Vancouver Courier that though she had not looked at the details of the homosexuality conference held in one of her elementary schools, she fully supported the event.
“I haven’t looked at it in great detail, but I can tell you that the board is very supportive of the work Steve Mulligan and the folks he’s working with are doing,” Bacchus said.
Vancouver School Board
School District #39
1580 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6J 5K8
Patti Bacchus, Board of Education chair