The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is hosting a virtual event called the Annual Rainbow Youth Forum, and this year it will feature events called "Decolonizing Gender" and "Drag Storytime" geared toward children, an investigation by True North has found.
"The Annual Rainbow Youth Forum (RYF) is a celebration of our diversity and is a day for students and staff to learn together. For 2021, students of all ages are invited and encouraged to attend..."
This is the 16th year the "Annual Rainbow Youth Forum" and it will be online due to COVID restrictions. Students will spend two and a half hours on a school night—Thursday, May 20—to learn about diversity and all things "rainbow."
Five events are named as part of the Annual Rainbow Youth Forum: "Decolonizing Gender, Drag Storytime, Workshops for Students and Staff, Chill Zone and a Rainbow Spring Fling Dance!" The descriptor claims that "This interactive virtual event will allow participants to ask questions and share their thoughts."
The official site page describes the RYF as an event that "...encourages safe and inclusive school environments by providing an opportunity to enhance knowledge and awareness about equity and diversity issues. The RYF aims to help build knowledge and understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, as well as homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia."
In that sense, memos from year's past say the RYF event helped at least one transgendered student "feel comfortable, relaxed and welcomed."
One of the events seems particularly odd for a virtual forum: the "Rainbow Spring Fling Dance" will certainly be less interactive than in years past.
To see what the event looked like before the pandemic, the Native Women's Association of Canada posted pictures of their booth that explained to young people what two-spirit sexuality was.
All Are Welcome is the book that San Francisco Drag Queen is reading on the official Drag Queen Story Hour website. A page that says the activity's intention is to show children a world with people "who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real."
There's been controversy related to drag queen story hour events in recent years. Despite that, the Rainbow Youth Forum event is openly advertised on the OCDSB Twitter account, which apparently covers a student-wide population of 72,000.
What's noteworthy about this is the Rainbow Youth Event has been an ongoing thing, mentioned on the OCDSB page since 2011. This being an exception to the common belief that various sectors of society adapted their "diversity" practices in the later half of the 2010s decade.
For this year's virtual event, you need to be a student or staff member of the Ottawa-Carleton school district to register.