Steinbach Pride has put out a questionnaire to all candidates who are running for mayor and city council. Dr. Katelyn Dykstra is the interim deputy chair of Steinbach Pride. She says the survey asks the candidates to outline where they stand on issues pertaining to people in the LGBTQ community. "We feel that it's necessary to kind of know where the councillors and candidates stand on these issues and have them be able to articulate that in their own words," says Dykstra.
She says they have not received a single reply so far. Dykstra hopes that will change and has a message for the candidates
"Come talk to us, just have a more open dialogue with us, approach some of these questions with care and thoughtfulness and, hopefully, we can get to a better place through open dialogue."
Dykstra says, aside from Mayor Chris Goertzen and councillor Cari Penner, city council has ignored them in the past, and adds, that is very disappointing.
"I wish that they would sit down and have a conversation with us, actually, because I think there is a lot of misinformation and there's a lot of confusion. I think that we're the people to answer those questions that they have, which might be keeping them away, so our strategy now is to encourage more conversation."
Dykstra adds Steinbach city council could take a lesson from the Hanover School Board which has taken a leadership role in accommodating people from the LGBTQ community.
"The school division, I'm glad to see them being a leader on this in our community because that's obviously where change happens and where change starts, is with our youth. You will often find that children themselves, they don't care so much about these issues. They are much more open and welcoming than we are. So, hopefully, city councillors can learn from both the school division and the youth themselves and take a more open-minded, child-like, approach that's just curious instead of judgemental."
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Below are the questions sent to the candidates:
1) In recent years, and in other provinces and constituencies, there has been significant debate over the role of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA's) in public and private schools. If elected, will you voice support for Gay-Straight Alliances in the public and private schools, both of which receive public funding, in our region? Why or why not?
2) Educating youth and adult community members about safe-sex practices, including how to reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and diseases, is important to combating the spread of STI's and STD's in our community (Manitoba, for example, has one of the highest number of reported cases of syphilis contraction in Canada). Do you support an expanded sexual-health program in Steinbach and our surrounding region, inside and outside our school system?
3) As an extension of Question 2), an expanded sexual health program would also include more public discussions of consent in order to curtail the number of sexual assaults and incidents of sexual harassment in our region. Do you support a public campaign that would teach youth and adult community members about consent?
4) The state of California recently passed a ground-breaking bill that denounces genital surgeries on infants born inters. Will you support us in assuring the same legislation is passed in Manitoba?
5) Access to respectful and inclusive medical care for transgender people can be life-saving. As of now, access to this kind of valuable care is limited in Steinbach. Will you work with us to see this access improved?
6) How do you plan to address the issue of at-risk youth in Steinbach and its surrounding region, including youth that may be rejected by their families because of their sexual orientation or gender expression?
7) Will you be attending next year’s Pride March? Why or why not?