Community matters even more in challenging times. Each year, the Burnaby School District recognizes the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHAT) with a student breakfast and speakers. The district’s SOGI Committee, which includes students, re-imagined its annual IDAHAT event for 2020 in light of COVID-19. On May 22 it held a virtual “breakfast,” filmed by students at Burnaby North, with more than 100 registrants.
The live event included BC’s Minister of Education and featured a collection of pre-recorded videos submitted by more special guests, including a diverse group of local, queer community members ranging from prominent authors and trailblazing politicians to Burnaby’s own students.
The event was opened by Board of Education Chair Gary Wong.
While how we can get together as a community looks different now and times are tough for so many, we will come through it by supporting each other.”
Organizers were also honoured to have Minister of Education Rob Fleming provide the closing remarks.
Congratulations on your 7th annual breakfast and that you found a way to continue meeting and collaborating in the midst of a global pandemic… The unknowns around COVID-19 are making most of us feel anxious. And some of you may find being away from school is impacting your mental health. You’re not alone. We are all here to support you. ”
Being isolated at home, away from friends, teachers, and without in-person supportive classroom environments can be a challenging experience for students – this can be amplified for those who are LGBTQ+. The needs of students were top of mind for the district’s SOGI leads, Dan Adrian and Bryan Gidinski, who called the virtual breakfast a “labour of love.”
Adrian and Gidinski, who were also the event emcees, explained that while the district was unable to offer its traditional IDAHAT Breakfast, the SOGI Committee still wanted to find a way to celebrate the day in a positive way, connect with LGBTQ+ students, and offer a sense of hope during these difficult times. Several of the speakers echoed that intention with messages about community.
Jeremy Dias is the founder of the International Day of Pink:
Check in on each other, be supportive of one another and stay safe. And remember someone has always got your back. There’s always an amazing teacher or friend or community organization that’s willing to help you so don’t hesitate to reach out.”
Grade 11 student Cole Sheehan-Klassen also stressed the importance of staying connected:
Right now, especially, advocacy looks way different. I think an important piece to remember, though, is through it all we are here together – even if we are here apart.”
The annual event, now in its 7th year, has traditionally been hosted in a school and open to all high school students across the district. Last year students from an elementary diversity club also joined. This year, students and their families, as well as staff, from throughout the district were invited to join online.
Watch some of the highlights of IDAHAT Reimagined:
Watch the full event here.
Learn more about the speakers here.
Read the Burnaby Now story here.
Posted May 2020