‘Love to Love’
Ally Centre of Cape Breton, Pride Cape Breton partner to hold GSA session
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.
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.