Rebuilding Bridges with the LGBTQI2S+ Community

February 13, 2020 | Vickery Bowles

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I’d like to share an update on our plans for rebuilding bridges with the LGBTQI2S+ community following this past fall’s room rental controversy

We will be developing a service plan that will outline the activity we will take to better meet the needs of the LGBTQI2S+ community in 2020 and beyond. Our staff group Pride Alliance will be an advisory group for the plan, and we will also develop it in consultation with Toronto’s wider LGBTQI2S+ community. This work will build on a long history of supporting the community through programs and services. One initiative recommended by Pride Alliance is to increase Positive Spaces training sessions so all staff can attend as a required course.

In addition, we will build on conversations that have been happening about trans issues with programming beginning this spring, developed in collaboration with the community. This is one of many initiatives we’ll be working on in 2020 to encourage greater understanding of trans issues and create more opportunities for trans voices to be heard.

I thank our Pride Alliance for agreeing to take on an advisory role for our service plan and programming, and look forward to their valuable input. I have consulted with Pride Alliance co-chairs Arturo Luque and Scott Robins on this communication, and they shared this comment on behalf of the entire Pride Alliance:

“Until recently, Pride Alliance was a volunteer group of queer TPL employees and allies that aimed to create visibility within the organization and push for greater intersectional diversity training and awareness. Pride Alliance has now been elevated to a consultative body for TPL in LGBTQI2S+ matters and in this new role, we hope to work towards healing the damage that's been done, rebuilding our community connections and uplifting queer voices through programs, collections and services.”

These are the first steps in rebuilding these important bridges with the LGBTQI2S+ community. Many TPL staff have worked hard to build these relationships and have nurtured very positive connections over the years, and I appreciate that very much. I feel strongly that it’s important that we also take system-wide, visible and transparent approach given the complexity of this situation and the hurt and pain that has been caused over the room booking.

I am committed to make things better, to bring people together and to continue to offer services, programs and collections that will strengthen our communities.

We’re looking forward to this important work and community collaboration. I invite any community groups or individuals who have programming ideas and are interested in working together to submit a program proposal or contact our programming team directly at programproposals@tpl.ca. Pride Alliance staff will be available to consult if there are questions about program ideas or processes. We will review all proposals as we plan our programming to create more conversations about trans and LGBTQI2S+ issues.

Clarification:

We agree consultation with the trans community is essential and intend to develop our service plan in consultation with the community. We expect the formal community consultations will begin this spring and we will be transparent in communicating when the events are scheduled. We also invite community groups or individuals who have programming ideas before then to contact us at programproposals@tpl.ca.

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