Students at Valemount Secondary School are aiming to take Valemount’s rainbow crosswalk issue into their own hands.
Zach Schneider and Vivian Kenkel, both Grade 11 students, are taking the steps to bring a rainbow walkway — or some other inclusive symbol — onto private property, so neither Council, nor the public can interfere.
“The town, and the school, could progress a little bit,” says Schneider. “This is a way to get that going.”
One of the leading options for Valemount Secondary, according to Schneider, is to paint the walkway of the school’s main entrance.
As part of the LGBTQ2 community himself, Schneider says he already feels safe in Valemount and at school, but that doesn’t mean everyone does.
“I obviously know others in the LGBTQ2 community as well,” says Schneider.
“This is a way to help ease the fears other people might have about being themselves, or coming out or whatever it is they’re feeling.
“It’s kind of a personal project in that way,” he says.
Though Schneider and Kenkel have already gained support from their peers, a spokesperson for School District 57 says the idea needs even more substantial, organized support from other students before moving onto installation.
Even if Schneider gets more students on board, a walkway won’t happen this year, he says, mostly because you can’t paint a sidewalk in the winter, though he notes if another symbol was chosen it could be installed earlier.
Because the school is on private property, permission from council isn’t required.
Based on policy changes at SD57, according to the spokesperson, demonstrating inclusion of all is a priority.
Keeping that in mind, the spokesperson says the district would encourage and welcome an organized student initiative of any kind that encourages inclusion of everyone.
Valemount’s Village Council rejected the idea for a Rainbow Crosswalk on 5th Avenue back in August.
The topic of installing a rainbow crosswalk created significant division within the community, according to locals. However, Council’s decision isn’t a direct reflection of everyone, according to Schneider.
It shouldn’t be about picking sides, Schneider says, because people are people — and the sooner the community understands that, the sooner it can move forward.
“Majority of the town may not be aware, or educated, on the issues youth within the LGBTQ2 community go through,” says Schneider.
“This is a way to get them involved and get them educated… This is a way of starting the conversation and progressing as a community.”