The Society's Pride newsletter is contributed by the union's Pride & Solidarity Committee, which advances 2SLGBTQI+ issues inside the Society and within our broader communities.
June is Pride month: a time to recognize the progress made in advancing the human rights of people who identify as two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer or intersex (2SLGBTQI+). Throughout the history of the 2SLGBTQI+ movement, working people in unions have often been at the forefront of achieving these gains by pushing for legal reform and cultural changes to ensure the rights of 2SLGBTQI+ people in the workplace and beyond.
As your Pride and Solidarity Committee, our goal is to advance 2SLGBTQI+ issues in our union, our workplaces and the communities where we live. While Pride - and the world - feels very different right now, we wanted to take the opportunity of this annual Pride newsletter to reflect on the challenges facing our community, the successes we’ve seen this year, and to share with you the exciting things we’ve been working on.
Pride and Solidarity Online Learning Module
We are very excited to share the news that with the help of our union’s Education Staff Officer, Renee Frost, the Society’s Pride and Solidarity Committee has been developing an online training course around 2SLGBTQI+ issues in the workplace.
Two of the main goals are to provide our members educational opportunities on the issues that 2SLGBTQI+ people face in the workplace and to provide tools to workplace allies so they will have the confidence to speak up and support their colleagues. We believe that education will lead to more supportive working environments for our members, and will empower allies to address discrimination when they see it.
The entire training module will be completed and released soon, but here’s a sneak peak you can access today: https://rise.articulate.com/share/CYt4PapvEzXdWu_DdXn04DtuHUPs1Yvt
Our Community and COVID-19
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been disproportionately felt in the 2SLGBTQI+ community, according to a national survey conducted by Egale Canada. The survey revealed that the 2SLGBTQI+ community has been negatively financially impacted as the pandemic has affected the employment security of over half of Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ households. The 2SLGBTQI+ community also reported greater current and expected impacts of COVID-19 on their physical and mental health, and overall quality of life.
While the impacts of this pandemic have been devastating, we have also seen our community mobilize to help each other in inspiring ways. In response to the challenges facing our community, the Pride and Solidarity Committee made donations to the following organizations and we encourage you to consider making a personal contribution if you are able to:
- GladDay Bookstore Emergency Survival Fund, established to support LGBTQ2S artists, performers and tip-based workers who are in dire financial need.
- LGBT Youthline, a queer, trans, two-spirit youth-led organization that affirms and supports the experiences of youth across Ontario by providing anonymous peer support, referrals and resources.
- The 519, which has been responding to the essential needs of the LGBTQ2S community during the COVID-19 crisis by serving takeaway meals, providing information and referrals, and delivering critical services for LGBTQ2s communities including youth, seniors, and newcomers.
- Rainbow Railroad, an organization that helps LGBT people escape state-sponsored violence.
- FreedomSchool – Toronto, a youth- and parent-driven initiative that creates educational alternatives for Black children by providing humanizing, self-affirming, queer positive educational programs in the GTA.
Here are some additional resources if you are looking for more information or support:
- Rainbow Health Ontario - provides reliable and up-to-date health resources for LGBT2SQ communities, service providers and others with an interest in LGBT2SQ health.
- It Gets Better Campaign - a non-profit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe.
- Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) - Pflag Canada is a national charitable organization, founded by parents who wished to help themselves and their family members understand and accept their LGBTQ2S children.
Another impact of COVID-19 is that many of this year’s Pride festivals worldwide have been cancelled or are attempting to hold virtual events. Pride plays an important role in bringing people together and providing a sense of community, acceptance and celebration. It also serves as a political platform for continued advocacy for 2SLGBTQI+ rights. While we can’t gather in person, Toronto Pride is planning a Virtual Pride with online programming – we’ll be tuning in and hope you will too!
If you’re interested in receiving future newsletters and event information from the Society’s Pride & Solidarity Committee, please email us at [email protected] and we’ll add you to our mailing list!
But maybe you’d like to be more involved? You can join the committee! We meet regularly to discuss the issues facing our 2SLGBTQI+ members and plan our initiatives. Our committee members are located all over the province, so you don’t have to be able to attend in person. If you identify as 2SLGBTQI+ or an ally and are interested in joining the committee, please send an email to [email protected].
Your Society of United Professionals Pride & Solidarity Committee