TRU’s Pride Parade attracted the largest turnout in its short history Thursday, culminating with a boisterous march around campus by about 150 students, staff and faculty.
More than that rallied before noon, sipping free herbal teas and chatting between display tables representing community supports and services for students.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia has got to go!” the marchers chanted with a rainbow of placards, banners and flags celebrating equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, queers and transvestites.
Julian Simpson, LGBQT representative for TRU Student Union, said about 70-100 participants attended the event in 2014, but there were easily twice that many for the fourth annual show of support.
Simpson said the university has made progress in the years since the first Pride Parade was held.
“I believe it has,” he said. “It has sparked a lot of conversation about issues, policy and LGBQT students.”
The campus has become more inclusive with policies intended to ensure safety for everyone, Simpson noted.
“However, let us be under no illusion, there is work to be done,” he said, adding that one in five LGBQT students suffers harassment over their sexual orientation.
“These aren’t just numbers. These are our friends, neighbours and co-workers.”
TRU president Alan Shaver underscored the importance of embracing diversity.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what kind of village are we talking about?” Shaver told the crowd. “We’re not all the same in this village, so it’s become second nature to treat people people properly and respectfully.
“It is a special day that is inclusive of all kinds of people,” he added.