Brantford broadened its diversity as Mayor Chris Friel raised a rainbow flag at city hall on Thursday, June 16, 2011. The event stemmed from an email sent to the Mayor from the Brantford Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer and Allies (LGBTQA) noting that they had yet to be publicly recognized.
Speeches were made by Friel, Brant MPP Dave Levac and Michael Dow, LGTBQA spokesperson.
“This is the biggest flag-raising crowd we’ve ever had,” remarked Friel.
Over 100 community members, including Laurier faculty and staff, attended the ceremony that was followed by a brief social in Victoria Park.
“The location is great,” says Kendry, LGBTQA Media Spokesperson. “Its right on campus and students especially need to know that they don’t have to be scared and that we are here for them.”
Kendry further explained that recognition aside, Brantford Pride Week and the flag-raising ceremony was intended to unite not only the LGBTQA but to unite the community.
Diversity is to be more supported on campus in coming years as well explains Ross Fraser, Student Support Specialist.
“We have a campus that is committed to diversity work, what we lack is a dedicated diversity and equity employee,” says Fraser. “We acknowledge the fact that a full time staff member is needed. The issue is allocation of scarce resources.”
Despite the lack of a full time employee dedicated to the expansion of diversity on campus, students and faculty alike are working towards a more accepting campus. The Rainbow Alliance and a new diversity space allow students to take part in judgement-free events and community.
The Rainbow Alliance, which began as a campus club in 2009 but became a student service, is dedicated to being supportive to as many students as possible despite race, religion, culture or sexuality. In addition to this, Laurier Brantford’s own My Respect program and training have been developed in recent years. Training has hit lecture halls as Concurrent Education students learn about diversity in the classroom.
“We still have a long way to go,” says Fraser. “I’ve only been here for three years, and even in that period of time we’ve come so far.”
While the school continues to work towards that dream, the recognition established by the Brantford rainbow flag raising and the integration of the LGBTQ community within the city signifies the progress Fraser hopes to see.