Seems his fellow students are much more mature than the school officials.
A step in the right direction.
The Toronto District School Board has introduced a new set of guidelines that spell out what kind of accommodation the board must offer to “transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff.”
The policy says schools must keep a student’s gender non-conformity or transgender status confidential and should never disclose it to a parent or guardian without consent from the student.
“It is strongly suggested that staff privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in correspondence to the home or at meetings with the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s)/caregiver(s),” the policy says.
It also says students and staff have the right to use a washroom that “best conforms to their gender identity” without having to “prove” their gender. Schools must also offer an “accessible all-gender single stall washroom” for any employee or student who needs “increased privacy.”
The guidelines were created as a result of a student’s recent human rights complaint, Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird said.
“A student was experiencing some difficulties with accessing programs and services specific to his gender identity. The student was provided an accommodation at the school and as part of the settlement … the board developed these accommodation guidelines,” Bird said.
A number of the guidelines were used on a case-by-case basis before, but Bird said this is the first time they’ve been officially spelled out in school board policy.
The guidelines, along with a fact sheet of common questions and answers, have been posted on the school board’s website. Bird said the guidelines are now being distributed to staff to use as a resource when requests for accommodation come up.
The guidelines also deal with use of pronouns when addressing transgender students or staff and says dress codes for students should be flexible, so students don’t have to choose between male or female clothing.
No surprise here.
By Don Peat ,City Hall Bureau Chief
TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford will be skipping Toronto’s Pride parade for a second year in a row.
Ford told reporters Wednesday he won’t be attending the parade this year because he is going to the cottage with his family.
“I’m not attending Pride,” Ford said.”It is on Canada Day, I’m going up to the cottage with my family like I’ve done for as far as I can remember.”
Asked if he would attend any other Pride events during the 10-day festival, Ford didn’t rule it out.
“We’ll see,” Ford said. “We’ll take it event by event.”
Ford ignited a firestorm of controversy last year when he became the first mega-city mayor to opt out of the Pride parade. Both former mayors David Miller and Mel Lastman marched in the parade during their terms.
Ford’s firm refusal to attend the Pride parade comes a day after he was more cryptic on the matter.
Asked Tuesday if he would be attending the parade, Ford wouldn’t say.
“I take my invitations one day at a time as you know,” he said at that time.
There is a new uplifting volume in the saga of independent gay bookstores: Yesterday it was revealed that Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop has a new owner, or 17 to be exact.
A team of individual investors have joined forces and funds to buy the store and preserve its legacy of galvanizing queer activism in Toronto since 1970. The oldest operating LGBT bookstore in the world went up for sale last month after owner John Scythes couldn’t dip anymore into his savings to keep Glad Day afloat.
“Glad Day Bookshop was a crucial center for the gay and lesbian liberation movement in Canada,” said the youngest co-owner, 23-year-old Spencer Charles Smith. “I know I owe so much to the activists who came before me so I am investing my money and my time into Glad Day as a way to honor them.”
In the coming weeks, Glad Day’s new Board of Directors will reveal plans to revitalize the bookshop, including adding new technology and initiatives to foster the local queer-lit scene and stand up for good old same-sex love and justice. They are currently looking for a new store manager.
“Arts and culture give our community wings.” said co-owner Rio Rodriguez. “With creativity and representation, our communities find healing, inspiration, education and celebration.”
Feeling inspired? You can chip in too and help save a gay bookstore near you!
And next time you visit Glad Day, make sure to say hello and thanks to the rest of the gang: Andy Wang, Doug Kerr, El-Farouk Khaki, Fatima Amarshi, Jonathan Kitchen, Kim Crosby, Lisa Gore , Marcus McCann, Mark Schaan, Michael Erickson, Michael Went, Nat Trembley, Scott Robins, Tessa Duplessis and Troy Jackson.
Pop superstar Lady Gaga gave a high-profile boost to a Toronto student’s efforts to end bullying on Friday.
Jacques St. Pierre, 17, is in Grade 12 and is student council president of the Etobicoke School of the Arts.
St. Pierre endured bullying during his elementary school years and wanted to do something to raise awareness about the problem.
“I got called the gay kid, the fag, because I liked to be in the school plays,” he told CBC’s Melanie Nagy. “I lost my best friend because he joined in with the bullies. It’s not fun, I’ve been there, I’ve been bullied. Before that, I didn’t know bullying could affect people so severely.”
Motivated to do something about it, St. Pierre organized a school assembly with an anti-bullying theme. He also gathered pledges from fellow students, calling on them to agree to help combat the problem.
But he also sent dozens of emails to celebrities, asking them to give their support.
That’s when he received an email he won’t soon forget.
“The subject line said ‘To Jacques from Lady Gaga,’” he told Nagy. “It said ‘click on the link below to download the video for your assembly.’ So no questions asked, Lady Gaga sent us a video. I watched it, and I started crying. I’m a huge fan. It’s kind of embarrassing because I love her so much. I couldn’t believe it.”
In her video addressed to him, Lady Gaga praises St. Pierre for his work to combat bullying, particularly bullying directed at gay and lesbian students.
“I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you for being such a strong advocate of the LGBT community in your school,” she said. “There should be more little monsters like you.
“My father always saves all the fan letters that I receive and I read yours and wanted to send this video to you. It is important that we push the boundaries of love and acceptance.”
Lady Gaga said it was important given the recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a Buffalo teen who committed suicide in September. One of his last tweets before he died was to Lady Gaga, who dedicated a song to him at one of her concerts.
Lady Gaga’s message got a strong reaction from students at the school assembly.
“I’m starting to actually realize how big this problem is and I just want to make a difference now,” said one male student.
“I love Lady Gaga and it means so much to me that she could do that for us and support us through this,” said another.
St. Pierre said he was elated to receive such high-profile support.
“Young or old, people know who Lady Gaga is, because she’s such a character and she does so much to stand up against bullying in any way she can. And someone as inspiring as her, taking 20 minutes out of her day to write down a speech, sit in front of a Teleprompter, get all made up and read it to us directly at our school. It’s fantastic.”
St. Pierre also got support from CBC comedian Rick Mercer, whose recent anti-bullying rant video on his show went viral after airing on the Rick Mercer Report. The video was played Friday during the assembly.
St. Pierre kept Gaga’s contribution secret prior to the assembly, which featured singing, dancing and a broadcast of her video.
“Last year when the It Gets Better project started on YouTube, I was inspired by all the thousands of videos that were put online by celebrities, politicians and regular people,” said St. Pierre.
“And I wanted to do something like that, so I ran for student council president and my campaign for that was to host an assembly about equality and anti-bullying and spread the message that everybody should be loved and accepted no matter what or who they are.”
More than one million people, many equipped with squirt guns, beads and rainbow flags, lined the streets of downtown Toronto Sunday afternoon as North America’s largest gay pride parade made its way through the city’s midtown core.
The multi-coloured floats began rolling at 2 p.m. winding their way down Yonge Street with politicians and celebrities gracing the floats.
And as they have done for the majority of the 30 previous years the parade has been held, “Dykes on Bikes” led the procession with the roar of their motorcycles.
But one man conspicuously absent from the proceedings was Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Despite public and private lobbying from many politicians, business figures and other city dignitaries, the city’s first-term mayor said he did not plan to participate.
Ford, the first mayor in 16 years to miss the parade, has faced heavy criticism for skipping the event in favour of upholding what he described as a family tradition of spending Canada Day weekend at his cottage near Huntsville.
Three previous mayors — Barbara Hall, Mel Lastman and David Miller — all attended the annual parade while in office, with Hall attending the first parade as mayor in June 1995.
“I believe in Pride because it says who we are,” former mayor David Miller told CP24 as he marched in the parade. “We are a city that is open to everyone.”
The 31st edition of the event caps a weeklong celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities and culture in Toronto.
Roads in and around the event will be closed for a number of hours throughout the day.
Sunday’s parade, which is known for its spontaneous water gun salutes between float participants and revelers began at Bloor Street East and Church Street and headed west to Yonge Street. It will then head south on Yonge Street to Gerrard Street East and then east on Church Street.
But parties will keep the area around Church Street closed until Monday morning.
The annual event has grown over the years. When it began in the early 1980s, some 4,000 participants took part in the parade. But organizers estimated that the 2011 version featured almost 13,000 participants both marching and travelling on floats.
It is also North America’s largest pride parade and the third largest in the world.
Toronto is slated to host the World Pride parade in 2014.
Ashram Parsi, executive director of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees and Ashraf, whose grandson, Aliraza Monavari, is now safely living in Norway after leaving Iran thru Turkey on the railroad. Ashraf will march in this year’s Pride Parade. RICK MADONIK/TORONTO STAR
Look for them on Sunday, marching down Yonge St. among the scantily clad and the corporately sponsored.
They’ll be the ones wearing white T-shirts, their hands raised in peace signs or waving rainbow flags bearing the name of the homeland they fled in fear.
And while other Pride-goers take it all off, some in this group will cover their faces, their open homosexuality too dangerous for family members back home.
It will be the first time an official Iranian contingent marches in Toronto’s Pride Parade.
“Iranian queers do exist,” said Arsham Parsi, executive director of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees. “We want to raise awareness for (their) rights.”
Through his Toronto-based organization, Parsi has helped bring more than 50 gay, lesbian and transgendered Iranian refugees to Canada since he fled the country himself in 2005.
Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran. Its ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once proclaimed there were no gay people in the country. It’s an atmosphere that puts even relatives of gay Iranians at risk; Parsi’s family had to move to Turkey after his activism led to threats against them.
But after marching in Ankara’s pride parade this May, Parsi was inspired to lead a group in Toronto. His friends in Turkey, many of them asylum seekers staring down an uncertain future, felt so relieved after marching, he recalled.
“They told me, ‘When we’re shouting and chanting in the streets, we do exist. We almost forgot all of the pressure,” he said. “We just shout and tell the world, I’m here and I would like my rights.”
About 35 refugees and supporters will march with Parsi on Sunday. Ashraf, 58, who moved from Iran to Toronto three years ago, will be among them. From her wheelchair, she will send an important message to the Iranian community without even saying a word, Parsi said.
Her presence is proof that being traditional and supporting gay rights are not mutually exclusive.
Ashraf, who asked that her last name not be published, is the grandmother of a gay teenager who fled Iran with his mother and is currently seeking asylum in Norway. Speaking in Farsi, Ashraf is overcome as she talks about her grandson. She cries and chokes on her words as Parsi translates.
“Loving your children is not only about feeding them and taking care of them. You have to support them as well,” she said, adding that many Iranians left their home because they could not bear living under “a dictator” like Ahmadinejad.
“When we cannot tolerate our children’s diversity … and we want them to be like us, it’s a kind of dictatorship,” she said.
Parsi knows that his group’s understated esthetic and serious message might get drowned out by more colourful parade entries. Pride is a time for picking up and partying for many people, Parsi said, and that’s just fine.
“But … for at least one minute they have to think that we have to be thankful that we are in Canada. There are many, many people all over the world that don’t have the same opportunities and are struggling for their rights,” he said. “It’s not about having fun or not, it’s about being alive.”
Trans March (by xtraonline)
Toronto Trans March splits in two PRIDE / (Just don’t call it a binary) Xtra staff / Toronto / Friday, July 01, 2011
Rumours of an alternate route for Pride Toronto’s Trans March were realized July 1, when about 200 protesters defiantly marched down Yonge St. The rest of the group — 1,000 or more — took the traditional route down Church St, which is closed for the entire weekend for Pride celebrations. The Yonge St path, which more closely mirrors the routes of both the Dyke March and the Pride Parade, took marchers down about 8 blocks of Yonge St, from Charles St to Wood St. A truck at the front of that demo blasted Lily Allen’s Fuck You the entire length of the demonstration. The splinter group negotiated the route with police before it began.
(Marcus McCann) That march set off at 8pm, while the Church St march left a half hour later. Crowds of revelers, in the neighbourhood for the weekend’s celebrations, lined the street to cheer on the marchers. The evening began with a show of unity at Norman Jewison parkette, located in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley village. Speakers, including Bear Bergman and Kate Bornstein, addressed the swelling crowds before the marches began.
Both marches ended at the Pride Toronto’s south stage, where trans programming was set to continue until 10pm. An afterparty is planned at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto’s West end.
By Kris Sims ,Parliamentary Bureau
Revellers take part in the 30th Annual Gay Pride Parade in Toronto July 4, 2010. (REUTERS/Chris Roussakis)
Christian parents wanting to opt-out of the Toronto Public School Board’s curriculum-wide inclusion of gay, lesbian, transgender and queer issues are being told to like it or lump it.
“We cannot accommodate discrimination,” said Ken Jeffers, coordinator of gender-based violence prevention with the board. “If a parent says ‘We don’t like gays and lesbians and we don’t want our child to learn anything about them,’ that would be, under our policies, and under Ontario Human Rights legislation, discriminatory.”
The resource guide for teachers of students in kindergarten through grade 12, titled Challenging Homophobia & Heterosexism, is meant to help educators integrate teaching moments concerning GLTQ issues into everyday discussions in the classrooms.
“As a blunt example, if we had parents who were members of the Church of the Creator, which is a white supremacist church, wishing to be exempted from anti-racism education, we wouldn’t allow that either,” Jeffers said.
For some parents, however, the programming goes beyond tolerance and anti-bullying and amounts to promotion and celebration.
“They are presenting an entire secular humanist world view that contradicts the teachings of many families,” said Phil Lees, leader of the Family Coalition Party, and a former public school teacher.
Lees says parents shouldn’t have to leave the public school system if they want to keep these issues from being taught to their five-year-olds.
“Other cities have alternative classes within the public system that teach in specialized ways, they focus on Ukrainians, Germans, Muslims, Christians or traditional learners,” says Lees. “Why can’t we have the same thing for Christian families within the Toronto public school system, just like the Afro-Centric school?”
Kate Bornstein will be speaking at the first Trans Pride March in Toronto on July 1st (Canada Day!) as part of TO’s pride week. If you are in the area, I’m sure it will be an event worth attending!
Q.THINKING & DOING / Veteran activist chats with Xtra in advance of Toronto Pride S Bear Bergman / Toronto / Monday, June 20, 2011