A concerned uncle has chosen to speak out after two teen girls were startled to find themselves changing in the presence of a biological male at the Vernon Aquatic Centre last month.
As first reported by Castanet News on Friday, the teens were confronted with the grown man who may identify as a woman while participating in a lifeguarding program at the centre.
"My niece had a 50-year-old man come into the change room, strip naked in front of her and her friend, she’s 14, and put on a woman’s bathing suit and go out," the uncle, Kevin, told Castanet News.
Kevin also informed Castanet that he contacted the Aquatic Centre's manager after learning about the disturbing incident and was shocked by the response he received. "He basically said that the kids have no rights and that the transgender person’s rights take precedence. This is something I think parents should know," said Kevin.
The sense of helplessness Kevin felt regarding the alarming situation is like that of what Janayh Wright, a BC mom of three, says she experienced after catching a biological male peeping under the stall her 8-year-old daughter was changing inside of at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.
When recounting the incident to Rebel News, Wright said she was told by workers at the front desk of that aquatic centre that it was the person’s "human right to go into that changeroom."
"We need to find safe spaces for everyone, and with the legislation that’s in place at this moment, unfortunately, it isn’t protecting our children," Wright added.
The piece of legislation Wright referred to is Bill C-16, an Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, which received Royal Assent in 2017. The Act added gender identity and gender expression to listed grounds for discrimination and has been used to excuse anything from biological men inside what used to be women's safe spaces to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity programs in schools that label sexually explicit materials for kids as learning resources.
The Act reportedly played a significant role in restricting staff at the Vernon Aquatic Centre and the City of Vernon from doing more for Kevin’s niece and friend over the incident. According to Castanet, Vernon City spokesperson Carolyn Baldridge said that all recreation services must comply with the federal law that permits people to enter any changeroom or bathroom they choose to identify. Baldridge also added that “It’s not unlawful for a person to be undressed inside of a changeroom.”
The statement is sickly ironic for those who struggle to understand how a Vernon, BC man who sent a picture of his penis to someone who he believed was a 14-year-old child can be found guilty of a crime, but a 50-year-old man can show 14-year-old girls his penis in person without consequence providing he’s within a space he identifies with.
While the situation may seem hopeless for those concerned with maintaining safe spaces for women and children, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are encouraging the public not to fail to report concerning changeroom incidents as some sections of the criminal code that address public nudity and indecent acts may mean police action is warranted.
In a statement to Castanet, RCMP Media Relations Officer Chris Terleski says in this case they would encourage "the uncle or the 14-year-old girl to report to us directly so a proper and complete investigation can be conducted."
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