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Letter: Why does Richmond City Hall not fly Pride flag?

Recent anti-LGBTQ events in Richmond include a protest at a drag queen storytime event and the vandalism of the rainbow crosswalk.
Bryan Bone Drag storytime
Protesters with graphic and intimidating signs intruded on Richmond's annula Drag Queen Storytime in Hamilton.

Dear Editor,

Re: Protesters mar family-friendly drag queen event in park,” News, July 28“No fairytale ending for fascists,” Opinion, July 28; “Rainbow crosswalk vandalized in Richmond,” News, July 5.

We are taught from an early age in our churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and schools that our primary job is to make the world a better place for the next generation.

Yet, we pay only lip service, at best, and turn a blind eye, at worst, to the fact that LGBTQ2S+ youth are at least twice as likely to have ever attempted suicide, with transgender youth specifically more than seven times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to their cisgender heterosexual peers.

We know that having supportive adults in their lives reduces that risk, but what does our city do in response? Out of one side of their mouth, they claim to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion by creating a welcoming community; out of the other, they refuse to participate in the minimal yet significant gesture of flying a Pride flag at City Hall.

To make matters worse, our Pride Crosswalk was recently vandalized, and protesters brandishing a rainbow swastika disrupted a Drag Queen Storytime Pride community event. This shows vulnerable kids community hate without countering with a more significant, unified response of community love.

We must ensure that all community members work together in an atmosphere of respect and safety. We should adopt appropriate policies, actions, and strategies that promote respect for human rights, support diversity, and address discrimination - of any kind.

Richmond should be a safe, welcoming and inclusive community. We should appreciate and celebrate the diversity of ALL community members, including LGBTQ2S+ members.

We all have a duty to respect each other's human rights. The BC Human Rights Code exists to protect people from discrimination and harassment. In B.C., it is illegal to discriminate against or harass someone because of their sexual orientation. Some may benefit from a reminder that the Human Rights Code applies to all businesses, agencies and services the province regulates.

It protects people from discrimination and harassment in public situations, including schools, universities, hospitals, medical clinics, stores, restaurants, provincial and local government offices, and transit services. It also protects people against discrimination in printed publications and areas such as employment, tenancy and property purchase. All elected officials are bound to adhere to the law of the province.

Returning to the flag, I am not suggesting that flying the Pride Flag will fix our issues and create a utopian world where everyone feels loved and welcome. I am, however, emphasizing that a small gesture that costs taxpayers next to nothing could be the small sign a teenager that identifies as LGBTQ2S+ needs to feel like they matter, and it would help create a united front to fight against hate.

Jack Trovato