Inclusive swim event in Regina creates safe space for LGBTQ youth
Participants say Queen City is improving in creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ people, but more can be done
The usual swimming activities at the Sandra Schmirler Leisure Centre were put on hold Saturday night. Instead, the pool was converted into a place where LGBTQ youth could swim without being afraid of feeling singled out.
True Colours Youth Group hosted the event, inviting gender and sexually diverse youth and children to come and enjoy a "safe swim night."
"Being a teenager and a kid can be a time of self-consciousness about one's body and appearance," coordinator Sherry Rapley said. "For members of the LGBT community, sometimes that self-consciousness can be magnified by factors like being bullied or mis-gendered."
Rapley said she's worked with a number of trans and queer young people who aren't comfortable putting on a bathing suit in a public setting because they're afraid of being judged or stared at by others.
She said Saturday's inclusive swim event offered a safe and welcoming atmosphere for young people and their families, while also giving them the opportunity to meet new friends.
While Rapley isn't directly involved with Queen City Pride, she said that organization provided bursaries to make the inclusive swim possible.
She's also hosting an art jam and pizza night next Tuesday at Trinity Lutheran Church Hall between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. that's open to everyone.
Regina improving, but more work needs to be done: youth
According to participants, the City of Regina has improved over the years when it comes to creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ people, but more work can be done.
Rapley's fellow coordinator Jasper Leclaire would like to see people get a better education and understanding of working with trans individuals. Before that happens, there needs to be more events like the inclusive swim night, he said.
It feels a lot more comfortable to know that I'm swimming with people who know what I'm going through.- Connor Robertson, on inclusive swim night
"Until people can learn to create their own safe spaces and create safe spaces together, we need to make them ourselves," Leclaire said, adding he feels optimistic that people in the Queen City will soon be at a point where they understand that everyone is just a bit different.
Connor Robertson said he was excited to hear that there was going to be an inclusive swim night in Regina, providing a space where he, as a trans male, would be accepted.
"It feels a lot more comfortable to know that I'm swimming with people who know what I'm going through," Robertson said.
"I think it's because they know what I'm going through and they understand why I might not want to go swimming or if somebody comes up to me and says something mean, I have a whole room to protect me."