It is once again Pride month! Thank you for your words of support for those who have reached out to me. The theme from Toronto Pride is Here, There, Everywhere and I cannot help but be reflective on what this means in my own career. What does it mean to be queer and how this translates into one’s workspace and career. You see the issue of heterosexism and cis-genderism in the workplace has only been magnified in impact when you have so many hate legislations being reviewed and implemented by our neighbours to the south, and this trickle effect is starting to rally support in anti-2SLGBTQI+ views here in Canada. Many are recently aware of the York Catholic School Board trustees voting to not raise the Pride flag, which our own Halton Catholic District Board had also done in the past.
My partner and I were out for dinner this week in Halton and our waitress’ entire demeanor changed with us when she figured out in small talk that we were a couple. Her physical stance changed towards us, she came to the table less often and when she did, she had stopped making eye contact. The only thought in our minds was, “why?” How is it that our relationship makes others so uncomfortable? We were admittedly pretending to watch sports and blend like others in the bar.
So, what you need to know is that if we, as queer adults are experiencing this regularly in our community, then our children and youth we work with from the 2SLGBTQI+ community are also experiencing this. Combine that with the intersectional identity of being Black or Indigenous and the impact of oppression is even greater. Please take time to acknowledge the queer youth who make our community better with their very presence. I always say that we as queer people have a gift and that gift is the skill that we have perfected from a very young age to read authenticity in others for safety reasons. So be authentic today. Reach out to queer youth and wish them a Happy Pride month. Feel free to share something with them that they have taught you. Let them know that you truly care about their identity and who they are. Just know that child protection safety is linked to who they are, that safety and safer spaces is what we are meant to provide in this work.
P.S. Drag Queen story hour is worth the visit – inclusivity and a sense of belonging is for everyone … and is that not what we want for all of our kids to learn?
Steve Levac, Director of Service, Child and Youth Services