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Canadian Youth Center Deletes “Queer Art Party” Event Poster Following Widespread Backlash

Ashley Gillett

A Canadian youth mental health center is under fire after advertising an event for a “Queer Art Party” for kids. Foundry Ridge Meadows, which is located in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, deleted the advertisement and implied it was an “accident.”

The drop-in party was scheduled to take place on February 15, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm, open to ages 12-24. The event banner depicts a hand holding paintbrushes, colorful paint splatters, and an individual with mastectomy scars spreading their legs to reveal a rainbow in place of genitalia.

It is unclear if the depiction was supposed to represent a child or an adult. 

The advertisement quickly attracted scrutiny after it was posted to social media, with one user revealing she sent in a complaint after seeing the poster. The user later shared the email response she received from Alicia Erenli, Manager of Foundry Ridge Meadows and Youth Housing Program.

“We can see how this may be offensive to some and can hold space for that,” reads the email. “Our intention is to be a safe space for all who want to access services however this image certainly does not showcase that.” Erenli goes on to explain the image was removed and the organization is working on determining how this occurred. 

Foundry Ridge Meadows later issued a public apology for the post via Facebook, claiming the poster had been posted without approval.

“To our community members. We’ve become aware of an unapproved post that went out that was deeply offensive. This post is not a reflection of our programming. We deeply apologize,” the apology read.

“We can absolutely understand the community’s reaction and this was not an approved post that went out, additionally the age group and information was not accurate. We see how this may be offensive. Our intention is to be a safe space for all who want to access services however this image and information certainly does not showcase that. We have removed this unapproved image and are taking time to understand what happened and how we can support our learning around this.”

Reactions from social media users were largely negative, with many offering harsh criticism and others questioning the intentions behind the event and accompanying advertisement. 

Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson implied the organization was facilitating inappropriate relationships between adults and children due to the fact the event offered a drastically varied age group.

“Where else are the twenty-four year olds going to find the twelve-year olds? The fringe of the fringe always destroys the fringe.”

Another X user responded with harsh criticism towards parents who would allow their children to go to an event of this nature.

“The ‘art’ graphic in this poster for children 12+ is a child exuberantly spreading its legs to reveal vague representations of genitalia of both sexes. What kind of Moms would take their child to this? What kind of people promote this perverse grooming activity? Maple Ridge, BC!”

Another X user questioned why an organization would host minors and adults together, and called into question the safeguarding protocols of the event.

“Apart from the glaringly obvious appalingness, since when did organisers advertise events that mix children with adults? #SafeguardingFail”

Other X users piled into the comment section of Foundry Ridge’s official X account, repeatedly posting the advertisement and demanding answers for the event and inappropriate imagery used. One user pointed out that the center’s explanation of the poster being “unapproved” seemed unlikely.

“I’d give you benefit of the doubt on poster image. Seems so ridiculous it’s intentional. But message appearing to be from you claims poster wasn’t approved AND age range was incorrect. But many of your older posts show the exact same age range 12-24 for yoga & other gatherings,” user @MetcalfMika wrote.

According to their website, Foundry Ridge Meadows is a branch of Community Services, a charity “dedicated to providing quality programs and services.”

The organization helps provide and connect youth and caregivers to resources for healthcare, mental health services, and substance abuse programs.

On the organization’s Facebook page they state, “Foundry Ridge Meadows is a place where young people ages 12-24 can access mental health and substance use support, primary care, peer support, and social services.”

Their website hosts several youth resources including a collection of blog posts on a range of topics like active living, nutrition, work, relationships and sexual health.

In the “Sexual Wellness” tab on the Foundry Ridge website they have a section dedicated to gender and sexual orientation. They include a graphic of the “Gender Unicorn,” a visual aide used for understanding gender identity and sexuality. 

“The difference between sex, sexuality and gender can be confusing. They don’t always relate to each other the way people sometimes think. For example, somebody who considers themselves straight might also identify as non-binary. The Gender Unicorn can help explain the differences between these categories.”

The Publica reached out to Foundry Ridge Meadows for comment but they did not respond in time for publication.

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Ashley Gillett

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