Saskatoon

Young people gather in Saskatoon to talk LGBT rights

Breaking the Silence conference attracts student activists from Vancouver

lgbt conference

Ky Lapointe is a transgender student in Saskatoon. (CBC)

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A group of young people are gathering this weekend at the University of Saskatchewan to discuss LGBT rights.

The annual event is called Breaking the Silence.

Participants are talking about ways to make Canadian schools safer and more inclusive places for sexually diverse students.

For example, Ky Lapointe from Saskatoon was born female but identifies as male and prefers to be called "he" or "him."

"I have a lot of problems with teachers using preferred pronouns, because generally they just don't understand what pronouns are, or like, how to change what pronouns to use," Lapointe said.

The 15-year-old transgender youth also says going to the bathroom is tough at school.

"We currently have gender neutral washrooms, but don't have the signage for it. So I usually use my third period spare to walk to a bathroom that I feel comfortable in, which is completely ridiculous," Lapointe said.

The event has attracted students from Vancouver who came to talk about what is working for schools in that city when it comes to LGBT kids.

lgbt conference

Kate Fry, Jacky Jiang and Meghan French Smith all travelled from Vancouver to Saskatoon this weekend. (CBC)

Last year, Vancouver School Board trustees adopted a controversial update to school policy that provides supports for transgender students. It allows students to be addressed by the name that corresponds with their own gender identity. It will also allow transgender students to use the washroom of their choice.

Meghan French Smith, 17, attends Britannia Secondary School in Vancouver and said the policy has been helpful for sexually diverse teens. She said she hopes Saskatoon students who are interested in working towards a similar policy for the city can avoid the controversy Vancouver faced.

"One of the problems with the process for us was there was a lot of misinformation and knee-jerk reactions and I think that Saskatoon can learn from Vancouver," she said.

Members from Amnesty International also made a presentation at Breaking the Silence. 

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