There is even more to celebrate at Pride celebrations this year as we mark the 50th anniversary of two important events in North America’s LGBTQ/2S+ history. Bill C-150, Canada’s first piece of legislation decriminalizing homosexuality was passed, and the Stonewall Riots took place in New York – which directly led to the formation of the Gay Liberation Front. Both these events marked turning points in our history, where people joined together to overcome discrimination through legislative and social change. In the 50 years since these events, discrimination and inequality sadly still exist, but significant change has happened due to vocal and persistent human and civil rights advocacy.
In the past year, the BC government started funding gender-affirming surgery and created a non-gendered “X” option for BC identification. Nationally, the “X” gender option is now provided for citizenship cards and passports, and Canada’s first study of LGBTQ2+ health was conducted and released by the Standing Committee on Health. These measures show that change is possible at all levels of government, and that advocating for people to be treated with respect and dignity is always worth fighting for.
As we look ahead to the future, it’s clear we need to take an intersectional approach to addressing inequality. As evidenced by the report on the health of LGBTQ/2S+ people in Canada, it is clear that those in the LGBTQ/2S+ community who are people of colour or people with disabilities face additional discrimination and barriers. This means that we don’t just need to create and update specific actions for LGBTQ/2S+ people, but to eliminate bias, discrimination, and poverty for all.
This is one of the reasons I’m so proud to be part of the labour movement. Being part of the fight for fair treatment of all workers doesn’t just give people a voice in their workplace, it’s part of the larger fight for social justice. I’m so honoured to work alongside all of you as we provide safe, inclusive spaces for our colleagues and students, and pave the way for a brighter future.
The fight to end discrimination and ensure equality for all continues. This is true solidarity, and there’s lots more to do. I hope you and your colleagues join pride parades and events to recognize all that has been achieved in LGBTQ/2S+ history and all that we can achieve together in the years ahead.
Terri Van Steinburg
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 19 public and 5 private sector institutions.