What is the Out and Proud Program?
The Out and Proud Program enables the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAS of Toronto) to ensure that its services are open, inclusive, safe, affirming and positive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, two-spirit, intersex, gender non-conforming, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) children and youth served by CAS of Toronto, as well as LGBTQ families, employees, volunteers and care providers.
We celebrate diverse sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions.
We assist CAS of Toronto to provide an environment that is free from homophobia, heterosexism, rigid gender expectations and transphobia.
Anti-Homophobia at CAST
At CAS of Toronto, we celebrate the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual (LGBT) communities in order to educate and create a safe and welcoming environment for our clients and workers who are a part of these communities.
Homophobia is an attitude, feeling or aversion toward gay men, lesbians and bisexuals or toward homosexuality in general. Homophobia surfaces in various ways, both on a conscious and subconscious level. Most people see and recognize homophobia as it is played out in individual actions such as name-calling or threats, but homophobia is also systemic due to built-in institutional practices that put homosexuals at a disadvantage. When sons and daughters reveal that they are lesbian or gay to parents, 25% of families will react in a physically violent manner even though there has never been any violence in the home before.
The other face of homophobia is heterosexism, which is the presumption that children will grow up to be heterosexual. Children and youth who discover that they are not heterosexual have already internalized all the negative messages about being gay, lesbian or bisexual and feel deep shame and fear. It is essential that families be supportive so that these children and youth feel supported and can grow up to be healthy and whole adults.
LGBTQ Policies and Practices at CAS of Toronto
CAS of Toronto has worked hard to provide a positive environment for the LGBTQ community, and has been a leader in child welfare in developing related policies, practices, guidelines and training. In 1994, we adopted policies supporting same-sex fostering and adoption. Since discrimination in adoption on basis of sexual orientation is prohibited, we are delighted to match many children to LGBTQ families every year. In 1995, CAS of Toronto published a ground-breaking report, We Are Your Children Too: Accessible Child Welfare Services for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth.
Accessible Services for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth policy was adopted by CAS of Toronto to ensure services for LGBTQ youth are inclusive, safe and equitable. In 2008, the policy was updated to include gender identity and expression in our policy renamed Equitable Child Welfare Services Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression. We have developed Practice Guidelines for Sexual Orientation Equity, which are available for a nominal cost. We are currently developing Practice Guidelines for Gender Inclusion.
We are Out and Proud at CAS
- Information and Referrals
- Resource development
- Policy and Guideline development
- Annual PRIDE celebrations for CAS of Toronto
- Peer-led anti-homophobia workshops for youth in care
Definitions of Terminology
Symbols of PRIDE
When Someone Comes Out to You
Myths and Stereotypes Debunked
Risks, Challenges and Survival Techniques
What a LGBTQ Affirmative Practice Looks Like
Strategies to Make Your Workplace and Residential Settings Welcoming to LGBTQ People
LGBTQ Youth Resources Across Ontario
LGBTQ Positive Faith Groups and Places of Worship
Supportive Strategies for Serving Young People Who Don’t Conform to Gender Stereotypes
Backgrounder on Gender Diversity
Board Governance Policy on Services Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression
NOTE: Links below will open in a new window
- Lesbian, Gay, Bi Trans Youth Line (Toll-free, anonymous, peer support phone line)
- Supporting Our Youth (SOY) - Programs for LGBTQ youth
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Addiction support for LGBTQ parents or parents to be)
- P-FLAG - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays including Bi and Trans peer support network
- Many more helpful sites - click here for our Links document
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