SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Now Available in the US

Nine years after Canada legalized same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court of the US handed down a ruling on June 26, 2015 granting the right for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states.  The LGBT media circuit has been overwhelmed with stories over the last decade focusing on individual states allowing gay marriage but it was never on a national scale. Queer critics of this decision see it as the possible end of popularized gay activism, as the gay marriage movement has received the most attention of any queer-related cause in recent history. For more details on the decision check out this NPR article.

Its important to note that the decision wasn’t unanimous, it was won in a 5-4 vote.  Here are some of the comments made by the folks against it.

What’s More Important Than Gay Marriage?

Since 2006 Same-sex marriages have been legal in across Canada.  Although this has been the case for a decade most headlines involving LGBT issues have been focused on Same-sex marriage, as the US has had a slow state by state transition to legalization, unitil June 2015 when they finally made it happen on a national scale.  Since most headlines have been dominated by the the marriage debate, many other arguably more important causes have been shafted. Here’s a quick snippet:

1. Queer and Trans* Youth Homelessness

2. Violence Against Queer and Trans* People

3. Racial Justice

4. Immigrant Justice

5. Health

6. Economic Justice

7. Trans* Justice

Check out the comprehensive list with explanations here:

7 LGBT Issues That Matter More Than Marriage

Let’s talk about sex… ed!

By Suruthi Ragulan

Sex education is rarely without controversy.

As a sexual health educator, working with South Asian communities all over Toronto, I see firsthand how sexual misinformation, stigma, cultural and gender norms can all make sex a hard topic to discuss. Lately, however, it seems to be all everyone wants to talk about.

If you’ve been following the news lately, or just taken a lunch-time stroll around Queen’s Park, you may have seen images like this:

sex-ed-photo

In case you haven’t been following the story, here are the highlights:

  • The Ontario sex education curriculum developed in 1998 has been criticized by educators around the province for being dated.
  • To better reflect our changing reality, a revised and updated version of the curriculum is set to take effect September 2015.
  • The changes include educating youth at an earlier age about naming their sexual body parts, talking about gender identity, introducing diverse sexual identities, cyber-bullying and sexting.
  • A small but vocal minority has been keen to point out that broaching subjects such as masturbation, dating or sexual and gender diversity may run counter to many family and cultural values.

Parents often hope their children will practise the values and morals that are espoused in the home and distance themselves from conflicting messages. By doing this, we may inadvertently close avenues for meaningful discussions around sexual health. Although this is done with the intent to protect young people, it can expose them to greater risk without the space to ask for guidance. This teaches children that sex is taboo, forcing them to turn to their friends or the internet – which may not be the best source of useful, helpful and accurate information. The taboo also breeds shame, which creates an atmosphere in which sex and sexuality live on the fringes of our communities.

Starting these conversations early teaches youth that sex is a natural part of life. By teaching them about sex, we teach them not to fear it. We teach them that sex can be beautiful and pleasurable. By lifting the taboo, young people can feel safer asking questions, negotiating their relationships and protecting themselves.

Media coverage of this new curriculum and the protests has been quick to pin much of the furor on specific cultural communities, with a focus on South Asians. While it may be tempting to paint such diverse communities with such broad strokes, it ignores the activism and advocacy that happens in these groups. South Asian parentseducatorsand politicians have all rallied behind these changes, working to educate larger communities about the importance of arming children with the knowledge they need to protect their bodies and navigate their own health.

The folks that I talk to on the ground every day recognize that youth are inundated with sexual images and messaging and that it’s crucial to give them the tools to decipher what they see. By providing a comprehensive sexual education, we are helping young people to develop skills so that they can make informed choices about their health.

Parents, teachers and students alike often dread the talk where sexual body parts, methods of contraception and sexually transmitted infections meet awkward giggles and shifting glances. But the discussion – giggles aside – is an important one, especially for young people who may need information and resources but do not have access.

Suruthi Ragulan is the Women’s Sexual Health Coordinator at theAlliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP) in Toronto.

Sometimes People Do Nice Things

In June of 2015 Toronto opened its doors to Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care.  This isn’t a private corporation, nor is it a government funded project, the Centre is the product of dedicated volunteers trying to open a health care facility to serve the uninsured and undocumented people living in Toronto without the means to access health care.  After 15 years in its old location, through the donations of time, money, and supplies, the clinic opened its new two-storey office doors in June at the Knox Presbyterian Church Agincourt.  Check out all that went into this project at the link below:

Clinic launched ‘where care matters more than a (health) card’