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Burnaby school board flies Pride flag for the first time

The LGBTQ+ rainbow flag was raised at Burnaby school district headquarters Monday ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia Tuesday.

After weeks of rain, the clouds parted just in time for the Burnaby school district to unfurl the Pride flag over its headquarters for the first time ever Monday.

The flag, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer inclusion, was raised at the head office ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia Tuesday and will fly for a week.

“This has been a culmination of a number of years of work … I think this is a pivotal acknowledgement of what we’re working to do in terms of creating inclusive communities. This flag, this symbol is reflected in the work that we all do,” said Bryan Gidinski, the school district’s SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) lead.

There are several versions of the Pride flag, but the board has decided to fly the 2017 Progress Pride Flag, which incorporates black, brown, white, pink and light blue chevrons (to represent communities of colour and transgender pride) along with the familiar rainbow stripes of the traditional flag.

IDAHAT was created in 2004 to draw attention to violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ community members.

Each year, the Burnaby school district’s SOGI committee hosts an event for students.

This year’s theme is authenticity.

Presenters will include former student leaders, as well as people working in STEM, music, literacy, childcare, activism, performance and the arts.

Since the pandemic began, the event has been held virtually, with families invited to join students and staff at the online event or watch the broadcast and highlights afterwards.

The school board had actually approved the raising of the Pride flag last May, but postponed flying it when all school district flags were lowered to half-mast to honour the children at Kamloops Indian Residential School, where hundreds of suspected unmarked children’s graves were discovered last year.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor