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One group vastly outnumbered the other during a pair of rallies held for and against change room policies at a fitness facility (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

Groups hold showdown over gym policy

By Adam Riley May 28, 2023 | 1:36 AM

Two groups with different messages converged on the sidewalk of Arthur Street West Saturday afternoon, one claiming to be protecting women, the other claiming the first group as attacking the LGBTQ2S community.

Stephanie Danylko says on April 28th she witnessed an individual she referred to as a “biological male” in the Women’s Only sauna/changing area at Movati Athletic’s Thunder Bay location.

Over the course of 25 minutes the individual carried out a conversation with her before packing up and leaving.

She says she believes the individual was a heterosexual male, based off of a comment regarding a live in girlfriend.

After that she went and questioned a staff member at the facility regarding the interaction.

“I simply said to her I just want to let you know there is a man in the women’s change room.”

Danylko says the staff member told her the facility was an all inclusive one, and claims her subsequent questions were unanswered by the staff member on the policy.

She then left and placed a complaint with the Thunder Bay Police Service. Several days later she was informed via email her membership with the gym had been terminated. “There was no investigation, no one reached out to me,” she said speaking to media Saturday amid an event she organized as a means to share awareness. “I’ve had several supporters that have sent me messages.”

She hopes Movati will address the issue she and her supporters have raised, suggesting the company has the financial ability to build “family friendly” change facilities seen at other businesses.

On Movati’s FAQ page the club lists out its Diversity and Inclusion policies, including one regarding gender fluidity and change rooms.

Members are encouraged to use the change room they feel the most comfortable and safe in. For added comfort, inside our change rooms you will find private changing areas. Most of our clubs also include a gender-neutral change room (Family Change Room) as an option.

While Danylko says this issue is not about the LGBTQ2S community, Rainbow Collective President Jason Veltri says it absolutely is. With ‘inclusive’ being an umbrella term for all, including the LGBTQ2S community, and based off of the signs and slogans he saw carried by those rallying against Movati’s policies.

“They are saying trans people should not be in the washrooms, change rooms, or areas that suit their identity…being in an inclusive space like Movati has been, there are basic human rights that can’t be violated.”

He says Movati is obligated uphold those human rights.

The two groups differed in numbers with supporters of the policy vastly outnumbering those taking issue with the policy.

Veltri adds this is an unfortunate and unexpected kickoff to Pride Month, which starts on June 1st, which sadly is similar to a protest held at the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board in 2021, he says he is concerned with regressive attitudes.

“We’re sliding backwards, we’re watching it here in Canada…the regression is real and this is where we’re standing up and saying ‘No more, not enough, and we’re going to be loud and proud.’ Our rights exist, our rights matter.”

Despite not being a protest Movati Athletic posted to its website Saturday informing its members it would be closing for the day due to a protest.





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