Sheridan shows pride for LGBTQ+ community


Sheridan showed the flag for the LGBTQ+ community on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Child and Youth Care/Social Service Worker peer mentors hosted the informative event. The event welcomed everyone, those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community or are allies. People were encouraged to be who they are and no longer mask their sexual identity. This ensures that everyone feels safe.

“We may not have had a large audience, but the group we did have was very engaged and passionate,” said Cynthia Morrison, one of the hosts. “To me, that means a lot more than a large group with little interaction and engagement. So I would say it was successful.”

The evening included guest speakers, trivia, food and an interactive activity. Some special guests included Malory Ryan and David Bordeaux, who are members off the Sheridan Gender and Sexual Diversity Taskforce. They conducted a survey of Sheridan students and faculty to see how Sheridan was doing in terms of being an inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community.

“It goes back to 2011 where Davis students, whom were primarily in Child and Youth Care and Social Service Worker programs, had concerns that Sheridan could be a more positive space,” said David Bordeaux. “It was really through their actions and other faculty and staff getting involved that really got the attention of Sheridan’s administration. They agreed to put together a task force.”

Malory discussed statistics that were collected via the survey. Awareness, climate, resources, safety and moving forward were gaps that they aimed to identify. 75 per cent of survey respondents were students and 25 per cent were faculty, staff, administration and others. Just over a quarter of respondents identified as LGBTQ+. Over half of the respondents named Trafalgar as their home campus.

Respondents who identified as LGBTQ+ were asked about feeling safe on campus. One in 5 felt discomfort accessing Sheridan washrooms and amenities, one in 8 had been verbally harassed at Sheridan in the past year and one in 20 had been physically harassed at Sheridan in the past year.

“I found some of these numbers surprising,” said Mallory. “I am a former student so I went into this with my own biases and expectations on what I thought this would look like.”


Shayne Aaron Lee, leader of Trafalgar’s Gay Straight Alliance, and Mac Singh, leader of HMC’s Gay Straight Alliance, also spoke. The two shared personal moments that they’ve encountered which were, they said, learning experiences.

“I came here five months ago,” said Mac Singh. “I’m from a country that has direct laws against me. They don’t have any laws against transgendered people, which is great, but they have laws against homosexuals.”

One method of attracting attention to the LGBTQ+ community is to encourage more allies. Allies tend to be heterosexual and/or cisgender people who side with gender equality and equal civil rights. They confront homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

“The reason we need more allies in our club is to make ourselves more visible,” said Singh. “We want more allies so that we can talk about more issues and they can take those words and educate other people. Until it’s not shoved in your faces, you won’t know where we’re coming from, and that has always been my approach.”

Sarah Horobin identifies as a cisgender female and is an LGBTQ+ advocate. She spoke about gender identity, gender expression and how they differ.

“Everybody’s journeys and identities are valid and we can’t just typecast transgendered individuals, or individuals in general, to just one stereotype,” said Horobin. “We also have to acknowledge the fact that transgendered men and women are real people, they just changed their gender identity. We have to be very cognizant of our words and how we say them.”

Misgendering was a topic that Horobin covered in her presentation. Misgendering someone constantly, whether it be unintentional or on purpose, can further stigmatize members of the LGBTQ+ community. Asking someone, “What are your pronouns?” instead of assuming can be a more positive approach to learning their sexual identity.

Another topic discussed in her presentation was Bill C-279 to amend The Canadian Humans Rights that will prohibit gender identity as a basis for hate crimes and discrimination. This bill deals in part with the bathroom controversy around transgendered individuals. Some people believe that if a person has male anatomy then they should be going to the male washroom, regardless of how they identify themselves. The same applies for females.

While there is always room for improvement, last Tuesday’s event showed that Sheridan is a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals.

“Sheridan’s Gender and Sexual Diversity Taskforce shared very important and powerful statistics of LGBTQ+ student and staff experiences at Sheridan,” said Cynthia. “I hope that with this information we can reach out to students and staff and work toward a welcoming and safe community for everyone.”

From Left: Vian Al Dabagh, Cynthia Morrison, Shanjot Singh

From left, Vian Al Dabagh, Cynthia Morrison, Shanjot Singh