This past May, I was excited as heck when the book was finally published and printed, in my hands and ready to show the world. Only -- not everyone in the world wanted to see it, and most certainly not the school within my district. At Charlottetown Junior Public School, I approached my daughter's former kindergarten teacher about doing a reading to her students. Shortly after, I was told by the teacher that the VP said "not now" citing that the timing would likely create a backlash due to the introduction of Ontario's new progressive sex education curriculum.
The month of Pride is a time for LGBTQ2S individuals to not only say who we are; but to also celebrate and be proud of who we are. Pride month is meant to remind us that we are real and that we matter, however, not all members of our community are seen; not all are celebrated; many are silenced and marginalized, made to feel that they are not real and that they do not belong.
The curriculum is aimed at preparing kids to navigate the complicated interpersonal and sexual situations in today's hyper-sexualized world. But opponents have latched on to a number of provisions. It should be clearly understood that the new curriculum is not a "How to Manual" and that the state is not promoting a particular relationship structure. Ultimately, the government must do a better job of convincing some parents that it is responding to the changing realities. All stakeholders must feel that at least some of their concerns are heard and validated.
On March 11, 2015, Toronto City Council finally approved funding for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and 2-spirit (LGBTQ2S) youth transitional housing. Although I am extremely disappointed that LGBTQ2S youth homelessness has been inadequately addressed for so many years, I am grateful that there is more understanding and awareness of this social justice crisis. I am also grateful that more organizations are now committed to developing campaigns and programs for LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness.
Schools have traditionally emphasized conformity as a way to encourage fitting in. Those who do not conform can find themselves facing discipline for infractions that, in other circumstances, would draw little if any attention. How well can rules to create conformity work for a transgendered teenager? Not well at all.
As an evolved species, we can do better than repeating the same patterns of discrimination that feed into a looping and segregating cycle. Let's lay out all issues on the table, educate, and not stamp prejudice onto those who suffer greatly for various other reasons because they fit in with the white/ straight/ rich categories.
For a majority of Torontonians, Pride is just another big-city party. But beyond the booze and the naked leathermen, Pride is an inherently political celebration of freedom -- for LGBTQ people just like me to be who we are without fearing we'll be the target of yet another verbal assault or hate crime. I wake up every day knowing my traditional Italian family will never accept me, watch me walk down the aisle or even meet my future wife. But all those fears seem to slip away when I'm surrounded by a community of people who know the same fear and sense of injustice I do. And when we are banded together, marching down Yonge Street with flags and Super Soakers, we are practically invincible.
Growing up gay and brown in the suburbs was rough. I came really close to flying to freedom towards the end of my senior year of high school when I drove off a cliff near my home. I thought it would be better than the stress of exams and the alienation I felt from being the only gay kid in the neighbourhood.
The youth I have spoken to over the years have described Toronto's shelter system as a dangerous place for LGBTQ youth because of prolific homophobia and transphobia. I have heard stories of youth living in parks because they did not feel safe in the shelter system due to daily threats of homophobia and transphobia.
There is no arguing that the Roman Catholic Pope is the very portrait of homophobia, and although some would argue that he has a legal right to spread his message of hatred, the question must be asked in Alberta why our government is so willing to fund a school board that supports this hatred, this outright advocation for gay genocide.
To those who expected Foster to announce publicly that she is gay, the speech was likely a disappointment. Certainly celebrity news opportunists like Harvey Levin and Perez Hilton were deleting hastily written posts for their websites when Foster said little more than "I'm single" as her big announcement. The subsequent outcry from some in the LGBTQ was perhaps far more surprising than Foster's refusal to publicly come out.
Another Canada Day, another successful Pride Parade along the streets of downtown Toronto. As in previous years one of the largest parades of its kind saw hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets. The Parade itself covers less than a mile or two of Toronto's streets but the geography is far less important than the message it sends. It was only 30 years ago this February that Toronto Police raided the city's gay bathhouses, arresting more than 300 innocent men.