The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity is proud to launch a new project and host 42 queer history conferences in schools across the country. This programming is geared towards commemorating and sharing the history of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, which inspired the fight for equality in Canada resulting in among other victories, the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality.
We are excited that in 2021, CCGSD will be launching a museum and community space in Ottawa that will document Canadian 2SLGBTQ+ history. This project ties into the creation of this museum by bringing the history and stories of 2S-LGBTQ+ people directly to youth in communities across Canada.
As 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of both, the Stonewall riots in New York City and the partial decriminalization of homosexual acts in Canada, in CCGSD we see this as an opportunity to celebrate the activism and resistance of those who have paved the way towards greater acceptance of queer folks by mainstream society. Looking back at Canadian history, we owe a great debt to activists involved in the 1971 We Demand Protest in Ottawa. They marched to Parliament and demanded changes, ranging from employment protections, protections from police surveillance, and the ability for homosexuals to immigrate to Canada (changed in 1976). This activism lead to court cases such as Egan V. Canada in 1994, which inspired
the reading of Sexual Orientation in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Over twenty years later, in 2017, the queer community celebrated the addition of gender identity and expression to the Canadian Charter, finally cementing the human rights and protections of Queer and Trans people under Canadian law.
The CCGSD team brings to life the diversity of queer communities in Canada by inviting local 2SLGBTQ+ storytellers to share with students their own personal journal and what the queer rights landscape looks like from their perspective. Engaging students in fascinating discussions with experienced (and fun!) educators, artists and speakers, is a part of the history forum experience. It allows students to learn in an original way through individual stories about the greater historical context and events that have shaped the queer community as it exists today. The students will particularly learn about the pre-colonial queer history of the Turtle Island, Two-Spirit Identities, early 2SLGBTQ+ activism, the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969, the exclusion of queers from the Canadian armed forces, 1971 We Demand Protest and 1981 Dyke March, including stories of individual as well as collective resilience. We believe it is important to facilitate intergenerational learning and educate ourselves about who we were to understand who we are now and where we want to be headed in the future. CCGSD staff will be present at the forum to facilitate discussions with the local storytellers, lead a history presentation and support a meaningful and respectful exchange of knowledge between participants that would create safe(r) space.
With the inclusion of GSA clubs in schools across the country and increasingly inclusive curriculums, the queer youth is experiencing new levels of acceptance and many students in today’s schools are identifying as part of the LGBTQ2+ community. These youth still face many difficulties such as bullying and discrimination from peers, which lead to Queer and Trans youth having more struggles with mental health concerns, than their peers. Our hopes are that by sharing the history of discrimination, activism and the fight for human rights (sexual orientation and gender identity), we can build empathy and understanding for LGBTQ2+ youth in your community to assist with an inclusive school culture that is accepting of diversity.