NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) – A youth conference planned for mid-July in New Westminster has now been cancelled by the venue where it was supposed to be held.
The theme of the event was “LGBT: Let God Be True” and it planned on having speakers and facilitators use biblical quotes to discuss LGBT issues and LGBTQ advocates had expressed their concern about it.
One of the people behind the “Get a Grip 2018” Youth Conference is a well-known critic of SOGI 123 — the new anti-bullying and harassment program brought in schools around BC.
Kari Simpson with the group Culture Guard believes the curriculum indoctrinates children and takes away a parent’s right to educate their own kids.
Colin McKenna with PFlag Vancouver is among those concerned about the event. In a letter to the Simon Fraser Student Society, which was listed on a poster as a supporter of the event, he wrote, “A facilitator of this event, apparently being hosted in conjunction with a religious organization, has a long history of causing harm to the LGBTQ community.”
McKenna notes he is a graduate of SFU, adding, “As a long-time advocate in this city for the rights of LGBTQ people, I am extremely disappointed to see my own university’s name on such an obviously divisive and discriminatory event. In fact, I am horrified.”
Heidi Hughes with the Anvil Centre in New Westminster, where the event was set to be held, says they made the decision to pull the event earlier today.
“We notified the organizer from the Redeemed Church of God that the Anvil Centre will not be hosting this event on July 21. In accordance with our policy for Anvil Centre, we decided to cancel the booking. It was not in accordance with our space allocation policy,” explains Heidi Hughes with the Anvil Centre.
She explains social media played a part in their decision. “Primarily based on our policies, but we did receive an email as well we saw some social media activity around our event which prompted us to do some further investigating and looking into the matter.”
Hughes adds they were not comfortable with the “subject matter.”
The Anvil Centre is owned and operated by the City of New Westminster.
Simon Fraser Student Society has asked that its logo be removed from the poster until they learn more about the event.
In a statement to NEWS 1130, the society says, “Typically, clubs submit their requests for printed materials (banners, posters, flyers, etc.) in advance, which provides us with an opportunity to review these requests and approve or reject them for publishing. Unfortunately, this process was not used for this event. We hope to meet with representatives from the club tomorrow to learn more about the event and determine how best to move forward.”
The statement continues and adds, “The Simon Fraser Student Society stands in strong support of the LGBTQ+ community. We have a long history of LGBTQ+ advocacy and have also established and continue to support an active Out on Campus office.”
Reaction to news of the cancellation by the venue has been mixed, with some calling it a “wise” decision and others arguing the event can simply go ahead in a different venue.