For a third consecutive year, queers and their allies will take to Abbotsford streets on May 20 for the annual Walk Away from Homophobia.
The quarter-mile march, spearheaded by the Fraser Valley Youth Society (FVYS), will proceed from Abbotsford Community Services to the Five Corners intersection and back to Community Services, the headquarters of FVYS’ queer youth drop-in service.
The “peaceful, quiet” walk has been growing each year, says FVYS director Loretta Hughes.
Last year the march drew 100 participants, she says.
Abbotsford has been a flashpoint of debate about anti-homophobia education over the last few years, with the district’s school board pulling a gay-friendly elective course and then reinstating it, following a student protest and a social justice rally in 2008.
The Social Justice 12 course, which the Abbotsford School Board now offers, provided students get parental consent to enroll, is the subject of a human rights complaint lodged by the late Peter and Murray Corren.
“I feel like Abbotsford is in a position of changing,” Hughes says, adding that she feels very positive about the attitudes of people in Abbotsford towards gay people.
The community changes very gradually, Hughes acknowledges, but she says that people seem to be “eager to listen and to rethink some of their old ideas and try some new ways of being inclusive.”
Hughes says she’s not hearing as many negative stories each year from the youth who come to the weekly FVYS drop-in.
The Society took a funding hit when it had its 2010 gaming grant cut, but Hughes says the group is “learning to make do with what we have.
“We’ll try again for the gaming money next year,” she says.