By David F. Rooney
The Safe Spaces Society, which its founders hoped would have a long and productive future advocating for the local gay, lesbian and transgendered community, was disbanded during its second Annual General Meeting on Monday, November 28.
Safe Spaces biggest problem was that even though it successfully promoted a broad public discussion about sexuality, acceptance and tolerance, it failed to attract a sustainable membership.
Discussion during the AGM revolved whether to disband the society or to allow to go dormant. The society members at the meeting voted 4-2 to disband it.
Vice-Chairwoman Megan Shandro said Safe Spaces “achieved a lot of great things” during its two years of existence but it just seemed to run out of steam. Among the accomplishments of Safe Spaces were its contributions to the School District 19 policy on sexuality, its posting of rainbow plaques on the front doors of businesses, cafes, restaurants, schools, City Hall and other municipal buildings and its organization of a pan-sexual group of marchers beneath the rainbow flag every Canada Day.
While its founders universally believed that Safe Spaces actually made a difference simply by existing some of them were quietly concerned about the group’s failure to attract a membership beyond even its original — and mostly heterosexual founders.
In a twist of cruel irony, the six actual members who were present for the AGM were joined by two young people who had hoped to help out and perhaps even join Safe Spaces. Sadly, that was not to be.
Here is the complete statement issued Monday night by Safe Spaces Society Chairman Martin Ralph:
“We would like to thank and acknowledge all of those involved with Safe Spaces Revelstoke for their support and dedication over the past few years. Safe Spaces was formed in an effort to build awareness and support for the LGBTQ community in Revelstoke, and we have done just that!
“Capacity has been built in Revelstoke through various community initiatives in which Safe Spaces Revelstoke has played a key role, including: the rainbow flag campaign, Pride film screening,the development of Revelstoke’s Hate Crime Protocol, an annual presence in the Canada Day parade, the development of School District #19’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy, Out in Schools presentation and student workshops.
“The work of Safe Spaces will continue to unfold through various organization in the community, however after the Annual General Meeting, held on November 28th, 2016, the society has decided to disband at this time.
“Again, we would like to celebrate and acknowledge the work that has been done over the past few years, and to thank all of our community partners, including: Revelstoke Arts Council, School Distinct #19, the City of Revelstoke Social Development, the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative, Castle Joe Books, Okanagan College, The Revelstoke Current, Revelstoke City Council, the Stoke Youth Network, Community Connections, the local RCMP, Revelstoke Multicultural Society, Revelstoke’s United Church, Balu Yoga and Wellness, the Columbia Basin Trust,The Revelstoke Theatre Company and to all other partners.
“While Safe Spaces Revelstoke will no longer exist as a formal society, the mission will live on through the work of various community partners list above.
“Thank you again for helping to ensure Revelstoke remains a safe, welcoming and inclusive community for all citizens!”