News | Forum discusses queer issues on campus

Future still holds potential for improvement

On Monday, November 7, the Joint Board-Senate Committee on Equity (JBSCE) Subcommittee on Queer People hosted a forum in Thomson House basement to discuss the intersectional issues facing the LGBTQ community on campus, the current policies that affect the LGBTQ community, the ways in which these policies can be improved, and the resources available. Approximately 12 people were in attendance, a lower turnout than what was expected.

Divided into two parts, the forum heavily focused on integrated group discussion: the first part involved brainstorming about the issues that affect the LGBTQ community on campus. Recurring topics included the lack of centralized community, visibility of queer issues, diversity in curricula, and gender neutral washrooms on campus.

The issue of “deadnaming,” the act of referring to a transgender person’s birth name instead of their chosen name, was also identified as an institutional problem that McGill’s Information Technology (IT) Services imposes by not using preferred names on official transcripts and email addresses.

The issue of “deadnaming,” the act of referring to a transgender person’s birth name instead of their chosen name, was also identified as an institutional problem that McGill’s Information Technology (IT) Services imposes by not using preferred names on official transcripts and email addresses.

The second part of the forum discussed the initiatives that are being taken and can be taken to tackle the outlined issues, serve the diversity of the LGBTQ community, and foster solidarity and allyship on campus.

Measures that were discussed include those presently being undertaken at McGill, such as mandatory equity-based workshops and training for staff, faculty, and students. These include projects like the Safer Spaces workshops offered to all staff, faculty, and graduate students, and Rez Project, a mandatory peer-facilitated workshop for first-year undergraduates living in residence that focuses on sexuality, consent, and race.

The forum was facilitated by Lynn Kozak, the Chair of the JBSCE Subcommittee on Queer People.

Speaking of the importance of workshops and training, Kozak said in an email to The Daily that “so much discrimination comes out of ignorance rather than malice. Training can help people see that their words and actions might be hurting others, even unintentionally.”

Tynan Jarrett, the Equity Educational Advisor (LGBTTQ) of the Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) office, who was present at the forum, concurred.

“Workshops strive to provide not only awareness, but also skills and tools needed to support the creation of equitable and inclusive living, learning and working spaces here at McGill,” Jarrett told The Daily in an email.

“So much discrimination comes out of ignorance rather than malice. Training can help people see that their words and actions might be hurting others, even unintentionally.”

“They offer an opportunity for staff and faculty to engage around important issues that are impacting marginalized and underrepresented students, staff and faculty at McGill,” Jarrett added.

“SEDE’s role is to provide education and advising on equity-related topics to the entire McGill community, with a specific focus on staff and faculty,” Jarrett continued. “We help units apply an equity lens to their policies and practices, and we work with individual faculty members to help them integrate equity material and equitable practices into their curriculum and pedagogy.”

This lack of diversity is most likely symptomatic of a greater issue: the lack of engagement at McGill with issues that affect the LGBTQ community. The forum highlighted that McGill’s engagement with these issues should not only extend to the classroom, but into other campus spaces as well, such as libraries.

Michael David Miller, the Liaison Librarian for French Literature, Economics and LGBTQ+ Studies at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, said in an email to The Daily that “librarians and staff of the library must continually accentuate the library as an inclusive place where everyone of all origins, genders, and sexualities are welcome to participate […] in conversations surrounding challenges facing LGBTQ+ communities in Quebec and abroad.”

“[Libraries can] build inclusive and diverse collections that represent the linguistic, cultural, gender and sexual diversity of our campus,” Miller elaborated.

Speaking about student engagement and allyship, Kozak told The Daily, “Community engagement around queer issues is crucial, first just because it’s so important for us to have a community, to get to share our experiences on campus with other people who might better understand us, and then to work together to improve those experiences overall at McGill.”


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