A rainbow crosswalk at Bench Elementary School in Cowichan Bay is a warm welcome to LGBTQ2+ students and school community. (Mike Russell photo)

A rainbow crosswalk at Bench Elementary School in Cowichan Bay is a warm welcome to LGBTQ2+ students and school community. (Mike Russell photo)

Lake Cowichan leads the way: rainbow crosswalks now brighten all Cowichan schools

Lakers lead the way; Initiative started with the teachers union and grew through student advocacy

Lake Cowichan has inspired the entire Cowichan Valley School District to embrace a rainbow of colours.

Operations crews have completed the task of painting a rainbow crosswalk at every school and worksite in the district in support of the LGBTQ2+ community — including at Lake Cowichan schools, where the project first took off.

Rainbow crosswalks were previously only at Lake Cowichan schools and were a project initiated by the Lake Cowichan Teachers’ Association. The idea to expand the project to the whole district was approved last year by the Board of Education through the initiative of Cowichan Valley Teachers Union’s Social Justice Committee and student advocates.

“We are excited to be a part of the project that saw rainbow crosswalks installed across our district,” said Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District. “The rainbow crosswalks are a colourful reminder of the discrimination that the LGBTQ2+ community faces.”

The goal is for the sidewalks to be “permanent and intentional symbols that show our community that schools and worksites are a safe place for LGBTQ2+ students, staff, and families,” said a press release issued by the school district.

The Cowichan Valley School District, Cowichan Valley Teachers’ Federation, and the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation funded the project and the paint was donated by Dulux Paint.

“While the symbol of the rainbow crosswalk speaks to the inclusive nature of the schools and worksites, it is specifically a symbol that recognizes the discrimination that the LGBTQ2+ community have faced, and continue to face,” said the release. “The Rainbow Crosswalk says to the LGBTQ2+ community that this school has committed to welcoming you and your family here with dignity, respect, and safety.”

cowichan valleySchools