The first has been painted at Bench Elementary and there are 19 more rainbow crosswalks still to paint within the Cowichan Valley School District — one at each school site and one at the district offices.
“The crosswalks are intended to celebrate and support diversity within the Cowichan Valley community and school district,” said SD79 spokesperson Mike Russell. “Our hope is when those who cross the rainbows into our schools, they feel safe and are able to truly express who they are.”
The board of education’s approval of the project was unanimous following a powerful presentation from students. The pupils were backed by the Cowichan District Teachers’ Association, which, during its social justice meetings, identified a need, and want, for more awareness and inclusivity towards students, teachers, and support staff that identify as LGBTQ2S+.
“There has also been the creation of many Rainbow Clubs, Gender-Sexuality Alliances and other clubs in schools, where youth come together to support socially just causes. The call for rainbow crosswalks was heard from the students in these clubs,” Russell said. “The CDTA Social Justice Committee is hoping these crosswalks will ensure that staff, students, and visitors feel safe and welcome in our schools. It is also the committee’s hope that teachers will use the crosswalks to teach our students about what they mean and how they can contribute to making our schools inclusive environments.”
The project comes at no cost to the district as longtime SD79 supplier Dulux Paint donated the paint and a $2,500 grant from the B.C. Teachers Federation and CDTA helped with the purchase of the additional project materials.