University of New Brunswick hosts 10th Pride in Education conference

The Gender Sexuality Alliance Network hosted its Pride in Education conference at the University of New Brunswick this weekend.

The two-day conference is designed to provide LGBTQ2+ high school students with a safe space to discuss issues and broaden students’ minds to the trials and tribulations others in their community face.

The general public may be surprised to know that this weekend was the 10th edition of the Pride in Education conference or PIECON.

Organizers say that they used to carefully advertise the event when the broader community was less than accepting.

“Ten years ago we would never have had the media at an event like this, we would never have publicized where it was going to be held because there was fear of who might show up and what could happen,” said Gail Costello, co-chair of Pride in Education.

Approximately 230 students attended this year’s conference.

Thomas Argue was one of the keynote speakers at PIECON.

Argue identifies as a gay man and when he came out in rural New Brunswick in the early 90s he said he was subjected to conversion therapy in Bible class without his parents’ knowledge.

“I was aware I was being demonized, the therapy was supposedly the salvation right, you know they were going to teach me how to be a real man by correcting how I held my books, and how I talked and how I walked,” said Argue.

The therapy did not work, with Argue saying it’s only accomplishment was to make him feel suicidal.

“They allowed the bullying. They didn’t stop that because that was the repercussions all designed to further fortify the effort,” Argue said.

Argue’s cousin, Mitchell Goodine, said he was also forced into conversion therapy at the age of 14. He says that the local church attempted to “pray the gay away.”

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