Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s latest 2LGBTQ+ pride initiative was painting the progress pride flag at each of the five campuses.
Over the summer, KPU painted the crosswalk outside the Main building at the Surrey campus, the two columns at Civic Plaza, the stairway on Kwantlen St. at the Richmond campus, and the crosswalk by the bus loop at the Langley campus with the progress pride flag.
Daniel Quasar designed the progress pride flag in 2018, but it didn’t become popular until 2020.
In addition to the original six stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, Quasar’s design adds arrows in light blue, pink, and white of the transgender pride flag which Monica Helms designed in 1999.
The progress pride flag also includes a black and brown stripe to represent marginalized 2LGBTQ+ people of colour. Additionally, the arrow shape signifies movement towards inclusion.
“I think that it’s important to recognize that the 2LGBTQ+ rights movement is always a work in progress,” says Romy Kozak, KPU director of diversity and faculty.
“We need to continue to work towards greater inclusivity and recognition of those that have not benefited from some of the gains made over the last several decades, and who continued to be oppressed by systemic structures,”
The progress pride flag is “the most inclusive,” they say.
KPU took advantage of online learning and empty campuses this summer to do the painting now before in-person classes return this fall. Kozak got the idea after the famous Abbey Road was repainted in London, England, during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Kozak says they chose those locations because they were not at risk of renovations and construction in the coming years as KPU follows its 2050 Campus Master Plan.
“We wanted to look for locations that weren’t going to be renovated or tearing up in a couple of years,” they say.
A student satisfaction survey KPU conducted last year found that “24 per cent of students identify as asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, queer, Indigiqueer or unsure/questioning,” and two per cent of students have trans experience or non-binary gender identity.
“It’s really important to those folks to create a campus environment…even an asynchronous campus environment, that demonstrates KPU’s commitment to welcoming and supporting 2LGBTQ+ students and faculty and staff,” says Kozak.
This year, the Pride Advocacy Group at KPU raised funds for the Pride Advocacy Student Award, which is for 2LGBTQ+ students who engage in activism on or off-campus on behalf of the 2LGBTQ+ community. Kozak says they are working on turning the award into an endowment.
The group is also developing a smoother process for transgender students to change their names in the registration system with their preferred names.