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July 16, 2013
Posted in: Update
Where do I Begin?

In the two weeks since our last newsletter we have continued our busy pace and felt some of the frenzy surrounding Toronto City Council.

Outreach and Education
In May our volunteers spoke with medical students at the University of Toronto, in a Diversity Workshop and on the same day met with a teacher from a TCDSB high school to give him our Rainbow bracelets and bookmarks for his students.  We continue to be approached by students or staff in Catholic High Schools looking for resources, and we are always happy to help.

This teacher had participated in the Workshop Marla Green and I presented at OECTA (Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association conference) in 2012.

The OUTShine Conference hosted by Egale which welcomed GSAs from across Canada was attended by Toronto PFLAG Board member Anne Creighton, and her write up is on page ?

Following the conference we are receiving requests from GSAs in schools requesting copies of our ‘Cool’ Posters, and we are seeing the posters in the schools we visit in Toronto.

On May 23rd Anne Creighton and I visited Bessborough Public and Middle School, and presented to students in grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.  Additional copies of our Poster were requested, and we are donating a copy of my GSA.ca which we purchase from Egale and leave in schools as a tool to help students, staff and administration.

IDAHT – May 17th, Toronto City Hall. 
On May 17th we were joined at Toronto City Hall by a host of allies and supporters and many media representatives for the reading of the Proclamation and the raising of the Pride Flag.  p-blog-11

Mayor Rob Ford attended for the second year, and read from the Proclamation.  He was again warmly welcomed as he joined Toronto City Councillors behind the podium.  We thank those Councillors who have consistently supported us and our families.

Our speakers did us proud, and we offer our sincere thanks to:

• Councillor Shelley Carroll,  Ward 33, Don Valley East
• Councillor Mary Fragedakis, Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth
Enza Anderson, Writer, Activist, Ally at BMO,  and Toronto PFLAG Volunteer
TK,  Pride Toronto Arts & Culture Program Manager, and Toronto PFLAG Ally and Volunteer
Shane Hebel,  University student,  Out on Bay Street volunteer, Toronto PFLAG volunteer/team speaker in schools

We are grateful to local photographers who sent us their pics from the event, including Tony, John Bonnar, Corbin Smith, Jim Callaghan, and if I missed anyone, I’m sorry!  Your pictures will be on our website shortly, and if anyone video taped the speeches, please send them to us and we’ll post them too!

In light of recent articles surrounding alleged homophobic statements made by Mayor Ford, we were asked to comment thereon.

In my closing remarks at IDAHT, I did call on all our elected officials to ensure that they stood behind the words written on the Proclamation, not just for that 1 day, but for the next 365 days.  I also stressed the importance of not just minding what people say when in the presence of someone they know is LGBTQ, but to remember that they could be in the company of a mother, father, sister, brother, child of someone LGBTQ who would be deeply hurt by homophobic comments, hateful words and bigotry.

I would be letting down my own son, and our extended community of families if I did not say that should homophobic or transphobic remarks be made within my earshot, by anyone, I would immediately speak up and denounce them.  Despite being hurt and offended, I would also see that as an opportunity to begin a conversation, promoting diversity and challenging bigotry.

In the hope that homophobic name calling and other scurrilous and hurtful comments will soon be a thing of the past in a city that proclaimed, “Toronto is a beacon for LGBT people who want to live, work and play in a city that respects and celebrates them” I thank those who joined us on May 17th, and remind everyone that Pride begins in 4 weeks!  Join us as the celebration continues!

Irene

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