‘Love to Love’

Ally Cen­tre of Cape Bre­ton, Pride Cape Bre­ton part­ner to hold GSA ses­sion

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEREMY FRASER jeremy.fraser@cb­post.com

GSA works around work to rule.

Two com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions teamed up on Satur­day to hold a gen­der sex­u­al­ity al­liance ses­sion for stu­dents across the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity at St. Theresa’s hall.

The event ti­tled “Love to Love” was a joint part­ner­ship be­tween the Ally Cen­tre of Cape Bre­ton and Pride Cape Bre­ton. The ses­sion was for ju­nior and se­nior high stu­dents, as well as univer­sity stu­dents, who are un­able to at­tend their schools GSA club meetings be­cause of the work-to-rule job ac­tion by the Nova Sco­tia Teach­ers Union.

Close to 25 stu­dents from dif­fer­ent parts of the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity gath­ered for the free ses­sion that fea­tured Valen­tine’s arts and crafts as well as mu­sic.

Tyler MacNeil was among the stu­dents who at­tended the event. He said hav­ing this event out­side school is im­por­tant.

“I think it’s re­ally good to have this, since we are not able to have meetings in school be­cause of the work-to-rule job ac­tion,” said the Whit­ney Pier Me­mo­rial stu­dent. “Be­ing a non-straight per­son, it’s hard to find some­where to talk to peo­ple, like me and to have a safe place to go.”

GSA was for­merly known as gay/straight al­liance. Close to 20 schools across Cape Bre­ton of­fer GSA clubs to stu­dents.

Ana McLean also took part in the event. She said GSA meetings are a place where peo­ple can go and be them­selves and talk about cur­rent is­sues.

“Ever since work-to-rule, we never had a place to go to talk about what’s go­ing on,” a stu­dent at Ocean­view Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre in Glace Bay. “At the meetings we usu­ally talk about what’s hap­pen­ing in the school and the com­mu­nity and how it’s af­fect­ing things.”

McLean said she feels more com­fort­able at­tend­ing events, like Satur­day’s, out­side of the school set­ting.

“At school you al­ways have to deal with the bul­ly­ing and ev­ery­thing, but here I can ex­press my­self and be who I am. Per­son­ally, I don’t get bul­lied that of­ten, but I have seen it hap­pen.”

MacNeil said things can be dif­fi­cult, but most times peo­ple are ac­cept­ing.

“I find a lot of peo­ple are ac­cept­ing, es­pe­cially in the schools with teach­ers and stu­dents,” he said.

Madonna Doucette is the LGBTQ ed­u­ca­tion co-or­di­na­tor for the Ally Cen­tre of Cape Bre­ton and is also the co-chair of Pride Cape Bre­ton. She said she sup­ports the teach­ers in their ne­go­ti­a­tions with the prov­ince, but knows how im­por­tant it is to have GSA meetings.

“I’ve been hear­ing from youth since the work-to-rule job ac­tion started that they have been re­ally miss­ing their GSA meetings, which is dif­fer­ent from an av­er­age club ex­pe­ri­ence at school,” said Doucette.

“At th­ese meetings there’s an of­fi­cial safe space where you can be your­self — it’s a crowd that un­der­stands.

“Al­though some peo­ple may think of GSA as a gay club, in fact it’s a club that em­braces di­ver­sity, fight­ing for hu­man rights and so­cial jus­tice — GSA clubs ac­tu­ally have a lot of straight kids in them be­cause they are peo­ple who be­lieve hu­man rights are im­por­tant.” said Doucette.

Doucette be­gan plan­ning for Satur­day’s first event about three weeks ago.

“I think now that we’ve had it, I think we are go­ing to have other events,” she said. “One of the re­ally nice things about th­ese events is that it al­lows kids from dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties to meet.”

Doucette said she hopes to be able to or­ga­nize events, like Satur­day’s, once a month, even af­ter the work-to-rule job ac­tion is over.

JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Madonna Doucette, left, helps Ana McLean, cen­tre, and Tyler MacNeil with Valen­tine’s arts and crafts dur­ing a gen­der sex­u­al­ity al­liance ses­sion at St. Theresa’s hall in Syd­ney on Satur­day. The Ally Cen­tre of Cape Bre­ton and Pride Cape Bre­ton part­nered to host the meet­ing. Stu­dents have been un­able to at­tend GSA meetings at schools due to the work-to-rule job ac­tion by Nova Sco­tia teach­ers.

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