The Burnaby Teachers' Association is teaming up with the Board of Education to host a public event on homophobia in sports, featuring a panel discussion with gay and lesbian athletes sharing their "coming out" stories.
"Society has come a long way with respect to gay and lesbian issues, and most people recognize that these are essentially matters of equality and freedom," said the association's Frank Bonvino in a press release. "This being said, there has not been significant progress to date in the sports arena. Currently, no professional athlete in hockey, baseball, soccer, or hockey has come out while still playing professionally. It's about time things change, and this event is another step in the right direction."
The event will be on March 28, at 7 p.m. at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, and it's open to the general public, not just the school community.
The speakers include Olympic gold medallist Angela Hucles, a former U.S. national team soccer player, and Scott Heggart, a hockey player from the University of Ottawa. Heggart will speak about coming out in the hockey community and how people can create a more supportive and inclusive atmosphere athletes.
The panelists are connected to You Can Play, a non-profit group that promotes respect and safety for all athletes, regardless of their sexual orientation. Bonvino said there will also be a third speaker and a facilitator, but they're sorting out the details still.
Bonvino sees the event as a way to promote the school district's policy 5.45, which aims to fight homophobia in schools.
"An event like this is a great way to bring that to life. We're hoping it's going to be the beginning of something big here, " Bonvino said.
According to Bonvino, there's been a lack of progress with fighting homophobia in the sports world.
"Homophobia and chauvinistic attitudes can really be prevalent in the locker room culture," he said. "We want to break down those barriers."
The panel discussion, titled You Can Play Burnaby, is on March 28, at 7 p.m. at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, at 7373 MacPherson Ave.