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Statement from the No Pride In Policing Coalition on the Pride Toronto AGM

December 10th, 2018 Comments off

 No Pride in Policing Coalition Says,

“Pride Toronto No Longer Represents Us”

Soon after the start of the December 4th Pride Toronto Annual General Meeting (AGM), Pride Toronto abruptly and without a vote, shut down the meeting. When it became clear that the majority of the membership didn’t support the direction of the Pride Toronto board and staff during a pre-AGM discussion, rather than allowing motions from the floor to address police presence at Pride, the chair declared the meeting adjourned without explanation or vote.

Following adjournment, and after being told we had to leave by the chair, more than 50 Pride Toronto members held a brief meeting. This unofficial meeting of Pride Toronto members passed a motion stating, “There will be no organized or institutional police presence in Pride.” Forty members, a clear majority of the members present at the meeting, voted in favour of this motion.

The AGM came just weeks after Pride Toronto invited the Toronto Police Service back into Pride without consulting members. Pride Toronto’s invitation directly contravenes two consecutive AGM membership votes which were overwhelmingly in favour of excluding police presence in Pride. These motions recognized the decades of violence LGBTQ, Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPoC) have experienced from the police.

Pride Toronto allowed for a 40 minute “open discussion on police presence in Pride” before the AGM officially started. This so-called ‘discussion’ had no decision-making powers and was a superficial stand-in for real impactful political discussion. Pride Toronto addressed the questions posed by members through avoidance, refusal and a deceitful game of semantics about police presence. Pride Toronto never spoke to the central issue: Why has Pride Toronto made the undemocratic decision to invite the police back into Pride?

Pride Toronto’s shutting down of their AGM represents a powerful message to all queer communities, telling us that our interests and concerns are not at the heart of Pride Toronto as it currently exists. Rather than take direction from its own members, Pride Toronto chose to shut down the membership, instead prioritizing its relations with the state and the police. This meeting represented a clear failure of Pride Toronto to be accountable to their membership and the broader LGBTQ, Queer and Trans BIPoC communities and as such does not represent or speak for them. The No Pride in Policing Coalition has declared this process undemocratic and a betrayal of the LGBTQ, Queer and Trans BIPoC communities.

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Queer Ontario Statement on Pride Toronto Allowing Police to March in Uniform in 2019 Parade.

October 28th, 2018 Comments off

QO Statement on Pride Toronto and Allowing Police to March 2019

Queer Ontario Statement on Pride Toronto Allowing Police to March in Uniform in 2019 Parade.

Pride Toronto has released a statement and held a press conference announcing a shift in relations between the police and Pride Toronto via an on-going community conversation. This has perplexed many of us at Queer Ontario and leaves us with many questions:

  1. From our perspective, this decision goes against the wishes of Pride Toronto’s membership who voted on this issue in 2016 and 2017 and were not consulted regarding recent dialogues. Why was this decision made without the input of Pride Toronto’s membership and what authority did Pride Toronto have to make this decision without membership input and vote?
  2. Pride Toronto claims there have been changes in the Toronto Police without divulging any details. We note that Trans folks continue to be arrested and face the choice of being put in a mis-gendered jail or being put in solitary confinement (a cruel practice that endanger the mental wellbeing and lives of Trans folks); Police have not apologized for recent actions, such as park arrests of men (e.g., Project Marie), which continues today; No apology has been made for raids of bathhouses (just a mere regret), strip bars and sex clubs; Black, Indigenous and trans people of Color still face police harassment in their daily lives (e.g., carding); many LGBT folks have died due to the negligence of police such as the Bruce McArthur, and Alloura Wells cases and the recently started review was initiated by the community, not the police. What changes have Toronto Police made?
  3. Pride Toronto describes ongoing discussions with the police but offers no details. Neither Black Lives Matter, Toronto (BLMTO), who brought this conversation to the attention of LGBTQ communities and mainstream society, nor Queer Ontario were consulted or part of the discussions. Removing community-based groups whom contribute free labour to our communities and movements from these conversations erases the very voices that brought these issues to the fore (BLMTO) from the process and contributes to the anti-black racism that has been apparent in our communities. Whom are the ‘trusted community organizations’ that are part of these talks?
  4. Given the above and beyond discussions, we ask what does Pride Toronto think changed and what accountability measures are in place when Pride Toronto picks and chooses who it converses with, while ignoring the concerns of others, such as its own membership and community organizations
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Reverting to Old Sex Ed. Curriculum called ‘Regressive’

July 12th, 2018 Comments off

For Immediate Release                                                                                               July 12, 2018

News Release

Reverting to Old Sex Ed. Curriculum called ‘Regressive’

Toronto: Queer Ontario calls the Progressive Conservative government’s plan to scrap the existing sex education curriculum that was updated in 2015 regressive.  By reverting to the old 1998 sex education curriculum the new provincial government would be implementing a curriculum that is three years older than the oldest student in the system.

Not only is the 1998 sex education curriculum out of date with the current realities of 2018 and what children and youth face today, it is irresponsible to teach students dated material and dangerous to fail to teach students modern relevant material that directly impacts their lives.  From issues of recognition of body parts to varying gender identities, to same-sex relationships and consent to navigating social media, all are important to today’s children and youth, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ or questioning their sexuality or gender identity.

Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced that there will be a new round of consultations with parents.  Queer Ontario reminds the government there have been numerous past consultations on this issue that included parents on each round.  Queer Ontario also questions if in the upcoming round the government intends to include other stakeholders such as educators, professionals, community groups and NGOs that are also concerned about education in the province.  Restricting consultations to parents only would be unrepresentative of the views of all Ontarians concerned about these issues.

Queer Ontario is a provincial network of gender and sexually diverse individuals — and their allies — who are committed to questioning, challenging, and reforming the laws, institutional practices, and social norms that regulate queer people. Operating under liberationist and sex-positive principles, we fight for accessibility, recognition, and pluralism, using social media and other tactics to engage in political action, public education, and coalition-building.

Queer Ontario – News Release – Sex Ed. Curriculum – July 12, 2018

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