NEWS: Professional development training to make Sarnia more aware and accepting of LGBT community

Check out our story in the Sarnia Observer

Professional development training to make Sarnia more aware and accepting of LGBT community
by  the Sarnia Observer

A youth group is hoping that a new professional development series focusing on inclusion will provide greater service for Sarnia’s LGBT community.

“When we had our focus groups, it was the youth from the LGBT community that said they have no safe space to go and that really caused a lot of anxiety and isolation and it’s our goal to break that down,” said Teri Thomas-Vanos, executive director of Rebound Sarnia-Lambton.

Rebound, a group that provides community-based programs to youth, has partnered with Lambton College to create awareness and hopefully more services for those in the LGBT community.

“We have families that are so desperate for resources that they’re bringing their kids from the county to Sarnia twice a month to our Spectrum drop in space,” said Thomas-Vanos.

On Nov. 11 and 12, the two groups are putting on professional development sessions for staff, students, and members of the public to shed light on the need for greater understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community in Sarnia.

“I think sometimes our lack of awareness causes us to separate people from different categories and promote stigma and social isolation and were hoping this is an opportunity for people to gain some increased awareness,” said Thomas-Vanos.

The sessions will offer in-depth training designed to get students thinking about awareness, sensitivity, and acceptance on issues of gender and sexual diversity. There will be several guest speakers including Jeremy Dias from Jer’s Vision.

Wendy Asher, Lambton College’s academic dean, said she hopes the community will learn from the event.

“I think there’s a wide spectrum of learning that can happen and the first step for those who have never looked at this sector is awareness … Understanding that gender identity is something very different from sexual identity … checking one self’s use of language.”

Thomas-Vanos said she hopes the event will make Sarnia more responsive and inclusive to the LGBT community.

“I think it’s about promoting awareness and strengthening services, this isn’t enough, we need to look at what else can we do.”


What: Understanding Gender and Sexual Diversity and Inclusivity development sessions.

When: Nov. 11, 6:30-9 p.m. and Nov. 12 from 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and from 1-4:00 p.m.

Where: Point Edward Optimist Club (210 Monk St.)

Details: To RSVP contact Lori Green at 519-542-7751 ext. 3207 or at

Speakers: Jeremy Dias from Jer’s Vision, EGALE Canada, and Nancy Campana and Bob Williams from Run up for Rocky and Windsor Pride.