Officials with a social services agency specifically designed to help LGBTQ youth say the province is now providing the necessary funding for their work.
The group Five/Fourteen helps youth find culturally sensitive foster care. At the end of September, CBC Windsor reported the Ontario government approved the agency itself — but refused to fund it.
Shortly after the story came out the province reached out and began changing that, said Lucas Medina, Five/Fourteen's executive director.
"We got a call from the ministry and they said they had good news for us," Medina said. "They would be providing the funding we required."
After looking at the group's business plan, the province approved the funding within a day, Medina said.
"I have a feeling that we have [CBC Windsor] to thank for that. It's unusual for them to do this," Medina said. "The attention made them think we are a different program, we serve LGBTQ youth in foster care from the entire province."
by Jessica Brousseau, The Mid-North Monitor
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
A former Espanola High School student and a member of the Spartan Gay Straight Alliance has published a book about gender.
Developed for children aged four, Jimmy Stata created All About Gender after an assignment was given to his equity and diversity class last year.
“Jayson Stewart assigned us all the task of writing a children’s story using one of the pronouns we learned in class,” Stata explained. “I looked at the requirement and figured out I may as well make the whole book about gender.”
Stata said most kids don’t know about gender outside the pronouns that come with them and wanted to use the assignment as a way to teach kids.
“Growing up, the conversation around gender was very limited. Aside from some basic feminist concepts, it wasn’t discussed much.”
The book started off with the stereotypes of what is a boy and what is a girl. As he aged Stata saw there was more to a person than the label of gender.
“When I was a kid, boys played with trucks, girls wore dresses and things like cross-dressing were seen as a joke,” he said. “The concept of gender nonconformity, the idea that someone’s gender may not match what they were assigned at birth, and the thought that there could be more than two genders were simply not discussed and, worse, still were openly made fun of.”
Stata said this had an impact on him as he was growing up, impacting what he wore, played with and even watched.
“When I was young, like a toddler, I used to play with dolls and wanted to wear dresses. As I grew up, I’d be teased for these things so I stopped doing them, and even started making fun of others for doing the same. I stopped watching some of my favourite shows like Powerpuff Girls and Sailor Moon because ‘ew those are girly.’”
As a teenager he said he realized it was “ridiculous” to deny himself of the things he enjoyed and watched what he wanted on TV saying “Good stories are good stories.”
But just because he watched what he wants, does not mean that society has accepted his, or others, choice. “Unfortunately, people will still, in their adult lives, be bullied for not conforming. I mean, just look at how bad Bronies (adult fans of My Little Pony) are bullied.”
While Stata has chosen to pick a story line and quality over what shows his gender is expected to watch, he still has to hold back on his choices. “I still think dresses are really cute and look quite comfortable, but I’ll never wear one out of fear and internalized sexism. Hopefully, I can help make things better for future generations.”
That is what he is attempting with his book. While he talks of male and female genders he also introduces you to Jamie whose identifies as ze. “Jamie represents people that identify outside the gender binary. It’s ambiguous as to whether ze identifies as no gender or a third gender because I wanted zir to represent anyone who doesn’t fit feel male or female.”
Even how he illustrated Jamie is ambiguous. While the boy was depicted as a blue shape and the girl coloured pink, he drew Jamie green and gave ze a shape different from the boy and girl.
“I coloured zir green and gave zir a distinct shape because I wanted to show that zir gender is distinct from male or female”
Stata ended his book saying “gender is not about your body parts. Gender is something you feel a heart.”Stata said he wants kids to see past the physical appearance and that their “body has no bearing on their gender.”
“Girls can have penises and boys can have vaginas. I hope that as this way of thinking becomes the norm, we can better help those suffering from dysphoria and reduce the amount of people that feel dysphoria.”
Dysphoria is a state of unease and dissatisfaction, and is often referred to not being comfortable in one’s current body. “People shouldn’t feel pressured to undergo surgery for their gender to be valid. But of course, if they want to have surgery that’s perfectly fine. A transwoman is not a woman trapped in a man’s body, she’s a woman who happens to have been born with a penis.”
Is the acceptance of everyone in the future? Stata believes it can happen. “Looking into history, we see that many different cultures already had a concept of more than two genders and transitioning. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume we’ll eventually get back there. I do think it will take a lot of time and effort.”
While he said he can see it happening in his lifetime, he feels transphobia will remain.
“In the same way that while most people are not sexist or racist in Canada today, sexism and racism are still very much alive. We will see a shift where blatant transphobia will not be tolerated, but more subtle transphobia will be harder to eradicate.”
Although he may not know when transphobia will come to an end, he said he will continue to do his part until it happens.
A copy of Stata’s book is $15, with $5 of it going to the Spartan GSA. The book can also be downloaded from the GSA website at no cost.
Stata said the idea to provide the book for free was Stewarts and he was on board in having it happen.
“I know some people can’t afford to buy it, or want to check it out before they buy it. If people want to spend money they will, if not, they’ll always find ways around it. Besides, I wouldn’t want to keep this message locked behind a paywall.”
MIDLAND, MI -- A Midland County woman's gym membership was canceled after she refused to stop telling fellow gym members "a man" was using the woman's locker room.
Yvette Cormier said the incident occurred Saturday, Feb. 28, when she entered the women's locker room at the Planet Fitness location at 701 Joe Mann Boulevard in Midland.
"I was blocked, because a man was standing there," Cormier said. "It freaked me out because, why is a man in here?"
Cormier said an employee at the front desk told her that the individual identifies as a woman.
After taking her complaints to Planet Fitness' corporate office, Cormier said she was told that the gym was a "no judgement zone" and they would not tell the individual in question to stay out of the women's locker room. The person has not been identified.
The slogan "Judgement Free Zone" is regularly used by Planet Fitness.
A statement released by McCall Gosselin, public relations director for Planet Fitness, states that members can use the locker room corresponding with their personal gender identity.
Cormier disagrees with the policy and feels it's a safety issue.
According to Cormier, she returned to the gym each day between Monday and Thursday. While there, Cormier said she told women in the locker room about the individual she observed in the bathroom the weekend before.
Cormier said she then got a call from Planet Fitness' corporate office telling her that she was violating their "no judgement" policy. She says they asked if she was going to stop talking to other women in the locker room and she said she would not.
Cormier said the representative told her she was no longer welcome at the gym.
The statement released by Gosselin confirms that Cormier's actions led to the cancellation of her membership, though the statement does not go into details of the situation.
Here is a look at the statement, in full:
"Planet Fitness is committed to creating a non-intimidating, welcoming environment for our members. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity. The manner in which this member expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that management at the Midland club deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was cancelled."
"I feel it's kind of one sided," Cormier said about the policy. "I feel like I am the one who is being punished."
She feels Planet Fitness could provide a third locker room for transgender people.
The women's locker room offers private changing stalls and includes bathroom stalls with doors.
According to Alison Gill, senior legislative council for the Human Rights Campaign, the gym is within its rights to create a policy that welcomes members to use the locker room corresponding with their gender identity.
"They have that right," she said.
-- Jessica Shepherd is a reporter with MLive/The Saginaw News. Contact her at 989-996-0687, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.
I recently discovered that my son, who is 17, is a homosexual. We are part of a church group and I fear that if people in that group find out they will make fun of me for having a gay child.
He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay. I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years — I have a busy work schedule.
Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay. He won’t listen to me, so maybe he will listen to you. -- Feeling Betrayed
You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality to show him how easy it is. Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice — to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure.
I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are. The same is true for your son. He has a right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is.
When you “forget” a child’s birthday, you are basically negating him as a person. It is as if you are saying that you have forgotten his presence in the world. How very sad for him.
Pressuring your son to change his sexuality is wrong. If you cannot learn to accept him as he is, it might be safest for him to live elsewhere.
A group that could help you and your family figure out how to navigate this is Pflag.org. This organization is founded for parents, families, friends and allies of LGBT people, and has helped countless families through this challenge. Please research and connect with a local chapter.
The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for picketing funerals, has been targeted on its own turf.
An activist bought the house across the street from Westboro's Topeka, Kan., headquarters and painted it the rainbow scheme associated with gay pride.
Equality House, as it’s now known, is owned by Aaron Jackson, co-founder of Planting Peace, a non-profit organization whose other projects include deworming efforts in poverty-stricken countries, establishing orphanages in Haiti and India and supporting rainforest preservation.
“For too long, the Westboro Baptist Church has been targeting the LGBTQ community with messages of hate and discrimination,” the organization said on its website.
Jackson, 31, bought the two-bedroom home for $81,000 without seeing it and moved in in January with a friend, according to Gawker.com.
He told various media outlets he was inspired by the story of Josef Miles, 9, who made headlines last year for his "God hates no one" counter-protest of a Westboro picket.
Hundreds of thousands have signed petitions asking the U.S. government to consider Westboro Baptist a hate organization and end its tax-exempt status.
March 20, 2012
James Spencer can now use the men’s washroom at his high school.
The 16-year-old was barred from using the men’s room when he transferred to Clarke High School in Durham Region after transitioning from female to male.
Instead he was told to use the women’s washroom or a private washroom that required a key from the main office.
“I thought, ‘They’re figuring it out, it’s temporary,’ ” said Spencer. “But as time went on they’re portraying the message that transgender people are wrong and they need to be segregated. And I don’t sit well with that.”
In protest, he started a petition that got hundreds of signatures and went from class to class at the school to share his story.
And it has worked.
The first thing the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board said at a Wednesday morning meeting with Spencer was: “We want James to use the men’s washroom,” said Spencer’s older sister, Jess, who was present. “It was really surprising.”
“We decided it would be most appropriate . . . and that’s the direction we’ve taken,” said Martin Twiss, the board’s superintendent of education.
As well, the school’s private, gender-neutral bathroom no longer requires a key, he said.
“We’re piloting (the accommodations) at this school . . . it’s certainly teaching us a lot,” said Twiss.
The board is also looking at policies employed by other school boards as it develops its own.