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

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Water movement increased in Houston reservoirs

Measure in response to 2019 boil water notice

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

Miscommunication led to three people turned away at pipeline checkpoint: RCMP

Mounties were installing new access procedures after checkpoint was set up for Coastal GasLink site

Pipeline at centre of B.C. conflict is creating jobs for First Nations: chief

All 20 elected band councils along the Coastal GasLink pipeline route have signed benefits agreements

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Coastal GasLink repeats desire for meeting with hereditary chiefs

Coastal GasLink says they’re ready to meet with the hereditary chiefs at their convenience

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Most Read