On June 16, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) hosted LGBTQ2S+ Talks, a town hall for LGBTQ+ students to interact with one another and discuss on-campus supports, as part of its Pride campaign. 

LGBTQ+ students in attendance discussed the present limitations on support and worked with the UTMSU to brainstorm possible solutions. 

Based on the discussion at the town hall, the UTMSU plans to create a proposal on ways to bolster supports for LGBTQ+ students and deliver it to UTM administration. 

In an email to The Varsity, UTMSU President Maëlis Barre explained that the UTMSU intends to make sure UTM uses the students’ input to make the campus safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ+ students.

The town hall was particularly important because, as Barre asserted, “The University [lacks] support for LGBTQ+ students in a number of different ways.” She noted that UTM’s healthcare and mental health services do not cover the issues caused by discrimination toward LGBTQ+ students and that UTM academics have a limited focus on topics of LGBTQ+ history.

Barre believes that UTM’s existence in a “systematically homophobic and transphobic society” makes the road to inclusion a long one.

Feedback from town hall

At the town hall, the UTMSU recorded students’ feedback while maintaining their anonymity. 

LGBTQ+ attendees highlighted the need for greater “silent representation” on campus through implicit measures to make LGBTQ+ students feel safer to express themselves. They suggested that instructors ask for students’ pronouns in class and that faculty and staff wear pronoun pins on campus. 

Attendees also requested an increase in resources at UTM’s Health and Counselling Centre,  specifically for LGBTQ+ students, such as more inclusive sex education resources and medical support catered toward trans students.

On the matter of queerphobia on campus, attendees contended that UTM should develop educational resources to make students more inclusive toward their LGBTQ+ peers. 

Additionally, the attendees believe that UTM faculty should attend mandatory equity training sessions before the start of semesters. These training sessions, the attendees elaborated, should expose faculty to the realities of marginalized students, such as LGBTQ+ students, racialized students, and students with disabilities, to foster an inclusive atmosphere on campus. 

The UTMSU’s previous Pride initiatives include a barbecue held on June 1 to celebrate Pride Month. The union also held a queer social to create a safe space for queer students to connect with fellow students by socializing and playing collaborative games. Other Pride initiatives from the union focused on creating more safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students on campus.

If you or someone you know, who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, is in need of support:

If you are concerned for your safety, you can also request for help from Rainbow Railroad at www.rainbowrailroad.org/request-help

For more resources, visit lgbtout.sa.utoronto.ca/resources-list/.