LGBTQ-themed swim at B.C. pool cancelled after online backlash

Event condemned for allowing topless swimming and excluding parents and guardians

Organizers of an “all-bodies” swim at a Langley City pool that was billed as “for LGBTQ2S+ youth and their allies” have called it off after it drew flak on social media for excluding parents and guardians.

Critics also blasted a circulated “swim dress” code for the event, open to “youth ages 12 – 24””that said “anything below the waist must be covered” saying it allowed topless swimming.

The following statement was posted online:

“Due to community response, we feel that we can no longer offer a safe and comfortable environment for the youth that wished to attend the Youth All-Bodies Swim; and therefore, we will be postponing the event.

This event was organized and supported by the City of Langley, the Langley Local Action Team and Encompass Support Services Society as a safe, non-judgmental and inclusive activity for youth.

We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation for the overwhelming, positive support for the Youth All-Bodies Swim.

We are hopeful that we will be able to host this event in the near future.”

Langley City Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Francis Cheung said because the Supreme Court has declared laws against topless swimming to be unconstitutional, the City is not in a position to impose a ban.

Because it was organized by Encompass, a group the City has worked with before, it gave them a break by allowing the pool to be rented on per-swimmer fee basis rather than the usual flat rate, Cheung advised.

It was the decision of the organizers to call off the event, Cheung added.

“Our part was to book the event,” Cheung said.

Going topless has been legal in B.C. since 2000, when Linda Meyer won a court fight against a Maple Ridge bylaw that outlawed exposed female nipples.

“I do not find in the evidence support for the view that the parks could not operate in orderly fashion if a female were to bare her breasts in a circumstance that did not offend criminal laws of nudity,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice R.R. Holmes declared.

Heat was also apparently directed at the other Langley, the Township, which took to Twitter to advise that “no, this is not an @LangleyTownship event and not held at one of our municipal pools.”

Other B.C. communities have hosted similar events in the past.

According to one online account, the first official All Bodies Swim was organized in 2010 during a transgender forum in Vancouver.

RELATED: Surrey group for LGBTQ+ youth aims to ‘train the next generation of activists’

In Surrey, the first-ever “all-bodied” swim was held at Newton Wave Pool last October, organized by Youth for a Change and city staff. The private event’s tagline was “All Genders, All Sexualities, No Judgment.”

Surrey’s manager of parks, recreation and culture Laurie Cavan told Black Press Media the event was for youth ages 15 to 21 and featured accessible, gender-inclusive change rooms and washrooms. Two more “Youth All-Bodies Pool Party” events are planned in 2019, however the dates are not yet finalized.

Christine McCracken, executive director of programs at Encompass, stressed the Langley event has been postponed, not cancelled.

“We’re just following suit and modelling after the other, successful events,” McCracken stated.

McCracken observed that while there has been criticism, much of it “way off course” on social media, there has also been “a lot of support” expressed online.

“Our intent was never to have a clothing-optional event, our intent was to provide an inclusive and safe, non-judgmental space for youth,” McCracken said.

Kim Hilton, Langley City Director of Recreation, Culture & Community Services said the proposal by Encompass met the City goals of encouraging people to be healthy and active.

“We’re just trying to be accessible and inclusive to all,” Hilton observed, adding the municipality and Encompass have worked together on many joint initiatives over the years.

.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Top employers give tips to succeed at Black Press Career Fair in Kelowna

The Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair takes place Mar. 12. at the Rutland Soccer Dome

Four ride hailing applications rejected by Transportation Safety Board in Okanagan

Decision means Kabu Ride is still only company to be approved for ride hailing in region

Multi-vehicle collision creates congestion along Harvey Ave in Kelowna

Accident occurred at approximately 4:50 p.m on Friday

GoFundMe launched to help Kelowna girl who battles mysterious migraines

Greta Friesen has been battling reoccurring migraines for last three and a half years

WATCH: Team Capital News spices it up with ‘Ladies’ Choice’

If you missed them at Swinging With the Stars, you can watch the teamโ€™s performance here

It’s Treat Week at Kelowna’s BC SPCA branch

Get some treats and meet some furry friends

Developer of RV resort west of Revelstoke ordered to stop selling lots

The Superintendent of Real Estate has serious concerns that buyers may not receive their purchase

North Okanagan prays for women of Zimbabwe

World Day of Prayer celebrated in 2,000 Canadian communities, one of 170 countries

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Trans Canada east of Revelstoke to be closed overnight

The highway will reopen at 10 a.m. Feb. 29

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Local vocal talents sought for Okanagan stage

Okangan Singer-Songwriter Competition auditions underway

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Most Read