Today, June 1, marks the first day of Pride month, an annual time where we focus on the growth, resilience, recognition, creativity and celebrations of the LGBT2SQ+ community. It is also when we pause to reflect on the past struggles, discrimination, harassment and barriers faced by this community. Being mindful of our past helps build a better future. We acknowledge that over many decades Pride has grown to be an empowering, vibrant international celebration recognized over a range of summer months around the world. This is such an important marker of growing acceptance and support of LGBT2SQ+ identities across the globe.
We, at CAS of Toronto, are very proud to stand with the LGBT2SQ+ community and celebrate this month with our city. While Toronto is known for one of the biggest and best Pride parades and related celebrations, we know this year will be different. As with almost every other aspect of our work, social and personal experiences the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting how we move forward. Instead of physical gatherings, we will see much more use of virtual, online spaces and platforms. But like other resilient organizations we will flex and work around the barriers. After all, barriers are nothing new to members of the LGBT2SQ+ community and Pride organizers.
It is critically important that we ensure to recognize and celebrate Pride this year, as we have an important obligation to demonstrate our ongoing support to our diverse range of clients and staff. One of our agency’s three Strategic Directions is to “Champion diversity, equity and inclusion.” We fully recognize that among the children, youth and families we support, are members of the LGBT2SQ+ community. We also know that children and youth who self-identify as LGBT2SQ+ often face challenges with insomnia, thoughts of suicide, harassment at school, in classrooms, hallways, washrooms and change rooms. They may struggle with acceptance from their families, both biological and foster parents resulting in a high rate of homelessness. Through our Out and Proud program and the efforts of dedicated workers, we will continue to improve our supports to this community. One of the ways we’ll do this is by participating in the celebration of Pride this year.
This year at CAS of Toronto our theme for Pride is Gen Qu: Virtual Pride. In years past we’ve sponsored multiple in-person awareness building events at various branches. But this year we’ll hold one centralized online event for staff members, volunteers and foster parents focused on Trans awareness and encouraging Trans inclusion. We’ll be bringing together guest participants to help us understand this area from an intersectional lens, knowing members of our LGBT2SQ+ community have intersecting identities that we need to honour.
Our commitment to the members of the LGBT2SQ+ community that we serve continues all year. Our Out and Proud Coordinator and program provides case consultations available to CAS of Toronto workers, resource parents and volunteers. Also available are a host of resources, referrals, information, learning, coaching, a lending library and annual Pride awards. We continue to champion the cause of Trans inclusion by providing support to access gender-affirming health care for trans/non-binary youth and support for gender transition. As well, we’re available to provide support on how to be an ally. Allyship is an area which is so vitally important to our youth and children to help them find support and have better outcomes in their life trajectories, and I encourage you to take the time to find out what you can do.
Our commitment of support to the LGBT2SQ+ will only grow in the coming years. Please join us in marking this important time of the year by making time to participate as well as continuing to grow in your awareness and support throughout the year.
CAS of Toronto, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion