Posts Tagged ‘school’

Queer Ontario awards 2011 John Damien Award to queer youth in Catholic school system

December 15th, 2011 Comments off

Queer Ontario Awards 2011 John Damien Award to Queer Youth in

Catholic School System

Award recipients reiterate importance of naming GSAs

TORONTO:  On Sunday, December 4, 2011 during the Queer Ontario hosted 25th Anniversary celebrations of Sexual Orientation’s Inclusion in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the host group presented the 2011 John Damien Award to St. Joseph’s GSA and Catholic Students for GSAs.  The recognition was cited for the courageous work of these youth advocating for the right to form and participate in GSAs in the Catholic School System.

During the acceptance speech, the youth reiterated the importance of having the agency to name the group as they choose, using the term ‘gay’ without shame, regardless of being in a Catholic school system.

Queer Ontario revived the award which had been established by its predecessor, the Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario (CGRO) which went on to become the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO).  Awarded 13 times between 1979 and 2004, the award recognizes individuals, groups or organizations that promote liberation for gender and sexually diverse people.  The award’s namesake is that of the late John Damien, who had been fired in the mid ‘70s from his job as a racing steward for being a ‘homosexual’.  The high profile case played a major role over a ten plus year campaign to have the Ontario Human Rights Code amended to include ‘sexual orientation’ as a ground for protection from discrimination, which was passed on December 2, 1986.

The celebration at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre included reminiscences, vigilance (ongoing campaign to have trans people recognized in human rights legislation), history and ongoing struggle for social rights beyond legal rights.


Queer Ontario Denounces the Institute for Canadian Values’ SunTV Ad for its Anti-Trans Fear-Mongering

October 26th, 2011 Comments off

Queer Ontario has learned that the Institute for Canadian Values (ICV) has chosen to continue its war on the province’s trans communities by running a transphobic ‘advertisement’ on SunTV that disingenuously attempts to raise fears around the trans-inclusive materials recommended by the Toronto District School Board for its students.

Just like the advertisement that was run in the National Post during the provincial elections and subsequently withdrawn from the paper because of its inaccuracies, the SunTV ad is grossly misleading and exploitative for callously throwing around and trivializing a set of identities that are used by non-stereotypically-gendered persons to give meaning to themselves and their lives. These include individuals who have struggled with their sex or gender identity in the past because of a lack of transsexual, transgender, intersex, and two-spirited representation in the Ontario education curriculum – struggles that often lead to depression and suicide. This also includes sex and gender identities that raise concerns and fears in less informed individuals because of their misunderstanding of these identities and the lived realities associated with them.

Indeed, these hardships only serve to underscore the need for such a frank discussion of sex and gender identities in the Ontario curriculum to teach Ontarians about the various sexes and genders that exist in this world. And we have faith that our teachers will be able to do this skilfully, using age-appropriate language, to ensure that students are not “confused” by these lessons like the ICV claims they will be.

We applaud Advertising Standards Canada’s decision to investigate the ad and encourage individuals to file their own complaints, drawing attention to Provision 14 (Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals) of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards:

We also encourage individuals to write to Dr. Chris Spence, the Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board, to let him know that you support the Board‘s decision to use the Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism curriculum resource guide, which is the target of the ICV’s ad. This can be done via:

Mail: Dr. Chris Spence, Director of Education, Toronto District School Board
5050 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M2N 5N8

This ongoing campaign by the ICV against Canada’s trans communities only highlights the need to include ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ as protected grounds in our federal and provincial human rights codes. Indeed, much like the case of ‘homosexuality’ in decades past, a prevailing ignorance about the lives of transsexual, transgender, intersex, and two-spirited people only serves to breed fear and misunderstanding in people – and, with that, discrimination and hate-based violence. We call on the Ontario and federal governments to step up and take action.

Queer Ontario Requests a Meeting with Premier McGuinty and Minister of Education Laurel Broten to discuss supporting LGBTQ Youth in all publicly funded schools

October 24th, 2011 Comments off



October 24, 2011

Queer Ontario Requests a Meeting with Premier McGuinty and Minister of Education Laurel Broten to discuss supporting LGBTQ Youth in all publicly funded schools

TORONTO – The election has come and gone but the issue of supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) students in all publicly funded schools is still a very real one. Given that Premier McGuinty committed to ensuring that all students in publicly funded schools would have an LGBT support group come this Fall*, a commitment that has yet to be followed through on, we once again call on him to follow through on his word and if he’s serious, go a step further.

We have written to the Premier and the Minister of Education requesting a meeting to discuss the issue of properly supporting LGBTQ students in all publicly funded schools through organizations such as Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs). We also expressed our interest in discussing the integration of LGBTQ content into curriculum, including the long-delayed updates to the sex education curriculum.

The recent tragic passing of Jamie Hubley is a firm reminder that it only gets better when we make it better. Moving forward on supporting our LGBTQ students through groups and updated curriculum are just two accomplishable ways the Premier and the Minister of Education can make it better and we truly hope they are committed to do so.


*“Ontario to mandate ‘LGBT support groups’ in Catholic schools” by Andrea Houston, Xtra! Canada, Saturday, July 2, 2011