In a flowing pink dress and pink wig, Conni Smudge performs to a packed house at Seycove Secondary School. The room erupts with positive energy, as students, staff and guests clap along with the show. It was not that long ago, however, that a performance such as this would never have occurred in a school.
"I was only in a school a decade ago, and could not have imagined anything like this taking place with such acceptance and celebration," said Kas Baker, a North Vancouver native who began transitioning while in secondary school. "While I had a lot of support from friends, family and the school, I was still referred to as a science experiment at the time."
(Right) Kas Baker speaks to students at Seycove
On April 10, 2019, an event hosted at Seycove Secondary kicked-off the start of a new educational initiative called Our History. The program is offered by the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity with the purpose of educating youth and Canadians about the history of LGBTQ+ rights in Canada. The program features posters and information about influential history makers, along with lesson plans that can be used by educators in schools.
At the launch event, Seycove Secondary students packed the school cafeteria to check-out the poster display and to hear from some of the history makers themselves. Svend Robinson spoke about being the first out gay politician in the Canadian parliament and the political work he did to advance LGBTQ+ rights. Libby Davies spoke about her experiences being the first out lesbian MP in Canada. The students also heard from Kas Baker about his experiences being a trans student in North Vancouver. Other politicians and community members also spoke – all honouring how far Canada has come regarding LGBTQ+ rights and how far we still need to go.
Current students at Seycove also spoke at the event, and many also performed. The energy in the room was electric. The vibe positive and powerful. Conni Smudge lip synced. It was a true celebration of how far LGBTQ+ rights have come in Canada, and how the next generation will continue with the work.
More information about the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity is available on their website.