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Group proposes County create diversity and inclusion charter

The idea of creating a working group to make the County a LGBTQ+ safe community presented to council at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting will be sent to municipal staff for a report.

Patricia Ginn and supporters presented a proposal to develop a draft Diversity and Inclusion Charter, “that not only includes people of sexual and gender minorities, but community members of colour and those with differences in ability, class, culture, religion, and age.”

She noted samples of similar charters that exist in York and Peel regions.

What happened earlier this month when several hundred people gathered within 72 hours to show support of the LGBTQ+ community following an anti-gay message shared in a bulletin by the St. Gregory Catholic Church minister, she said, was not an isolated incident.

“It is only one example of the intimidation, persecution and ignorance that we have experienced as 2SLGBTQIA people. The question is what are we going to do about it?”

Ensuring a charter of diversity and inclusion is critical, she said.

Pride on display at crowd outside St. Greg’s Catholic Church June 16.

“Each and every person who attended the protest was there to acknowledge and voice their support for some of the most vulnerable members of the community. It is when we see the true value of everyone that a community thrives as a whole. And from my perspective, Prince Edward County is an outstanding community well situated to champion the issue of diversity and inclusion in this region.”

The group’s plan noted that by the end of next March, a charter could be presented to council and by next fall, policies in regard to harassment and discrimination against 2SLGBTQIA+ people in line with the new Diversity and Inclusive Charter.

She stated the group would seek a budget allocation to present the charter and schedule educational components such as reviewing, creating and presenting workshops for County staff, businesses, faith-based communities, schools, First Responders, and community services such as the Prince Edward County Youth Centre.

“We believe that this would promote a greater understanding of the issues facing 2SLGBTQIA+ people and will reaffirm their value to this community,” said Ginn. (2SLGBTQIA – Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, and asexual)

The group seeks $1,000 from this budget year for design work and printing costs for a visual campaign where storefront window signage would signify spaces as safe and inclusive.

Daisy Fraser-Boychuk spoke about youth and suicide, isolation and the importance of establishing education programs and of gay/straight alliances in schools.

“According to the 2015 National Youth Risk Study, 40 per cent of queer youth have seriously considered suicide,” she said. “Transgender teens, according to a recent study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, have similarly staggering rates of suicide. These rates are also dependent on intersections of race, class, and ability. At least one quarter of the folks at the protest on Sunday the 16th were children and adolescents. They are at the forefront of our message.”

“We need long-lasting change. Protests and community demonstrations are powerful, but official municipal action means upholding the needs of some of our most marginalized for the long run.

“It signifies that we are dedicated to programs and policies that support and protect 2SLGBTQIA+ children and adults,” said Ginn. “That we are dedicated to their lives and wellbeing. The demonstration Sunday the 16th should show that Picton is ready for that!

“When we make a stand for those who are marginalized, it sends a strong message that everyone is welcome in our communities.”

Filed Under: Local News

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