Queering the scoreboard

An athlete reflects on the history, experiences, and challenges faced by LGBTQ+ athletes

Queering the scoreboard

Every young queer needs a hero. At least, that’s what I always tell myself. Having grown up playing sports — and only coming to terms with my sexuality in adulthood — that person for me is one Brittney Griner.

But before I go further, I must clarify that I use the term ‘queer’ in this article as an umbrella term to refer to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and other non-normative sexualities and gender identities.

Griner has always been one of my favourite athletes. I can still vividly recall one of my earliest memories of watching her play some 10 years ago; it was an 80-second YouTube clip featuring the Texan and then-Nimitz High centre perform dunk after dunk during what appeared to be a break during practice.

At six-foot-eight, Griner went on to dominate the college basketball scene at Baylor University, leading the team to a national championship in her junior year and obliterating records in blocked shots and buckets in the process. To no one’s surprise, she’s since gone on to have a stellar career in the pro leagues, scoring a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury and several additional titles with her Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Griner changed the game and left a legacy. Watching her dominate the court has been delightful, but it has been her courage off of it that transformed me into super-fan.

When Griner came out as lesbian in high school, she was kicked out of the house at her father’s request, and lived on her assistant coach’s couch for six weeks. At Baylor, due to the school’s stance on ‘traditional’ relationships, she was warned not to discuss her sexuality, especially because of her national profile as a star athlete.

Sport has never really been an apolitical domain, or simply about the numbers. In simply existing — let alone thriving — in her chosen field, Griner, a Black queer woman navigating a world dominated by white men, has never had the luxury of separating herself from her layered identities. While definitely not the first known queer athlete in sports history, she is certainly one of its most decorated.

But how does Griner fit into the larger picture? Attempting to map out a definitive, comprehensive history of queer athletes is difficult at best and problematic at worst. We simply aren’t monoliths. However, reflecting on major events in the sporting world over the past several decades can perhaps encourage us to evaluate both progress made and progress needed.

After iconic swimmer Diana Nyad came out as lesbian at 21 in 1970, legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova followed suit in 1981. Where King and Navratilova were trailblazers for women in tennis and sports in general, this was a significant moment in sports history by anyone’s account.

Meanwhile, in an announcement preceding the opening ceremony of the 1994 Gay Games, prolific American diver Greg Louganis publicly declared that he was gay, though, to those in his close circle, this was not much of a shock.

More recently, former NBA player Jason Collins as well as former NFL and CFL player Michael Sam disclosed that they were gay, in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Just last year, Collin Martin of the MLS’ Minnesota United acknowledged that he was gay on Twitter before the squad’s Pride Night, making him the only active male athlete in major professional sports leagues to publicly identify as queer. Despite the courage displayed by these athletes who openly acknowledge their sexuality, other moments are sober reminders of how far we have to go to make athletics a safe place for queer folks.

Recall the International Association of Athletics Federations’ humiliating and disturbing demand that South African intersex runner Caster Semenya undergo “gender testing” in 2009; the results of the test were leaked and she was “hounded mercilessly by the press and on social media.”

Meanwhile, in 2017, Texas high school wrestler Mack Beggs, despite asking to wrestle in the boys’ league, was forced to compete against girls. Under Texas law, athletes are required to compete under their assigned sex on birth certificates. Although he took home the state championship with a 32–0 record in 2017,when he took the state championship again last year, he was targeted on social media and in person at meets due to his gender identity.

There are countless other stories, moments, and figures that could give valuable context to the queering of sport. But how can we determine what constitutes progress? For every league like the WNBA, where so many of its biggest stars are openly queer that their ‘coming out’ stories don’t even make headlines anymore, there are countless others, like the men’s Big Five sports leagues, which have only one active and openly queer athlete collectively. And this doesn’t account for coaches like former Pennsylvania State University women’s basketball boss Rene Portland, who once said that she refused to “have [lesbians] in [her] program.”

But, for every Caitlyn Jenner — who, with the protection that comes from a life steeped in wealth, class, and racial privilege, rightfully earned the Arthur Ashe Courage Award following a very publicized transition — there are dozens more Brittney Griners and Andraya Yearwoods, young women simply trying to compete in the sports that they love. So, ultimately, while it’s good to celebrate the progress made, it is so much more important to be mindful of how much work there is left to be done.

Moving toward trans-inclusive healthcare in Canada

U of T researchers advocate for affirming and personalized health care practice for LGBTQ+ individuals

Moving toward trans-inclusive healthcare in Canada

Canada’s transgender population continues to face challenges from transphobia and discrimination, which, among other factors, influences their health and development.

Recent efforts by the Canadian government and affiliated agencies address issues that LGBTQ+ communities face.

In 2016, the Canadian federal government passed Bill C-16, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and expression as one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination.

In the health care setting, LGBTQ+ individuals face multiple barriers that contribute to the disparities in the management and care of these individuals.

Alex Abramovich, Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Independent Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), has been studying the health care needs of LGBTQ+ youth for more than a decade.

From his experience working with young trans people, Abramovich wrote to The Varsity that this population has an unmet need for mental and physical care.

Many transgender individuals are “unable to come out and speak honestly about their identity and healthcare needs because they may not know whether or not it will be safe to do so,” wrote Abramovich, explaining how gender identity affects access to health care.

He added that some trans youth do not even have a family physician due to “previous experiences where their gender identity and sexual orientation were pathologized.”

To address the urgency for improved health care accessibility by trans populations, Abramovich recently co-authored an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) that provides comprehensive steps for physicians to follow to become more trans-inclusive and trans-competent.

One of the recommendations listed in the article was to privately ask all patients what name and pronoun they go by, instead of making assumptions based on perceptions of their voice, appearance, or name and sex listed on their health card.

Another key recommendation made in the article was to ensure that patients are addressed with a gender-affirming approach that does not view gender variance as pathological.

“These are just some of the things that health care professionals can implement immediately,” wrote Abramovich, expanding on the purpose of publishing such health care recommendations.

Staff Physician and Adolescent Medicine Specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital, Joey Bonifacio, argues in a review article recently published in CMAJ that adolescents’ mental health improves when they receive gender-affirming care.

Bonifacio mentions that primary care providers are equipped with some published medical guidelines on providing care for the transgender population. However, practice is hampered by a lack of experience and training in trans health issues.

He suggests that primary care providers support trans adolescents with gender dysphoria by facilitating discussions about the “timing of social transitioning, reviewing and overseeing the potential use of medical management, and connecting them with local community resources and supports.”

Besides improving the management and care of trans individuals, U of T-affiliated researchers suggest that routine data collection can “contribute to evolving norms in Canadian society regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Currently, there is a lack of national and territorial data on trans populations, mainly because there is no standardized way of collecting and analyzing data about gender identity.

Andrew Pinto, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at U of T and Staff Physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, tackled this challenge with his research group by examining how Canadian patients react to being asked routinely about sexual orientation and gender identity.

By administering a sociodemographic survey of all patients in the waiting rooms of St. Michael’s Hospital on a regular basis and later conducting semi-structured interviews with 27 patients, Pinto and his research group found that the majority of patients appreciated the variety of options available for both the sexual orientation and gender identity questions.

However, some patients felt discomfort in answering such questions, and some felt that their identities were not reflected in the options despite efforts to provide diversity in survey responses.

Based on these research findings, the authors suggest that an open-ended option such as Identity not listed (please specify) could be included in addition to prespecified options. They also suggest that health care organizations should set the stage for asking these questions by explaining how the data will be used and ensuring that clinics are LGBTQ+-positive spaces.

Pinto and his colleagues hope that further research will be done in a variety of Canadian and international settings in consultation with LGBTQ+ communities, as such data can help organizations identify health inequities and build a framework with improved and inclusive care.

The NBA needs to take a stand

Why Charlotte shouldn’t host the 2019 NBA All-Star Game

The NBA needs to take a stand

In February, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina will host the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend, where the best basketball players in the world will team up and compete against each other. On the surface, this may seem like nothing out of the ordinary — just another city hosting the final night’s All-Star Game. However, avid NBA fans know that this is Charlotte’s second go at hosting the event.

The city had been previously announced as host for the event’s 2017 edition, before having its role stripped in response to North Carolina’s passing of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, or HB2, which discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community by excluding sexual orientation and gender identity from the definition of nondiscrimination.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver responded to the situation early, warning that if significant changes were not made, Charlotte would not host an All-Star game.

In an effort to regain the game, which typically generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue, the state government repealed HB2 in March 2017.

Keeping his word, Silver agreed to give Charlotte another crack at hosting the 2019 All-Star Weekend. While the NBA undoubtedly helped to catalyze change within the North Carolina legislature, it failed to uphold its own standards by not holding out for more change.

For many years, and especially since Silver was named commissioner in 2014, the NBA has prided itself on being the most progressive North American major sports league. While the NFL has not supported players protesting the national anthem, the biggest stars in the NBA have spoken out in support of social justice causes, with the support of the league’s front office.

The NBA as a league has recently launched new social justice platforms centred around diversity and equality. Individual teams have also taken on significant roles in their communities, ranging from the Boston Celtics leading anti-bullying campaigns to the Golden State Warriors hosting an open discussion between law enforcement officers and the community.

For a league that prides itself on standing up for what it believes is right, it should have been a no brainer to demand that North Carolina do better. So, while the NBA helped to get HB2 repealed, it stopped short of truly protecting LGBTQ+ rights. Upon repealing HB2, Governor Roy Cooper banned local governments from making any changes to discrimination laws for three years.

This is not an invalidation of all the hard work that the NBA has done over the years regarding social issues. However, there is a time and place to stand one’s ground. For Silver and the NBA, that should have been with Charlotte hosting the All-Star Game. As Silver himself put it, “In this day and age, you really do have to stand for something.”

He’s right, you do have to stand for something. In this case, the NBA should have stood a little longer.

Varsity Blues win big on first-ever Pride Night

Blues women’s hockey team defeats the UOIT Ridgebacks 4–1

Varsity Blues win big on first-ever Pride Night

A Pride fag sticker is illuminated on the back of second-year forward Louie Bieman’s helmet. THEO ARBEZ/THE VARSITY

 

Fifth-year defenceman Julia Szulewska stands ready during a break from action. THEO ARBEZ/THE VARSITY

 

The Varsity Blues women’s hockey team huddles around starting goaltender Erica Fryer. THEO ARBEZ/THE VARSITY

 

Blues captain Becki Bowering battles for possession of the puck. THEO ARBEZ/THE VARSITY

“To serve and protect who?”

Toronto Police should listen to marginalized LGBTQ+ folks and attend Pride — without the badge

“To serve and protect who?”

Last month, Olivia Nuamah, executive director of Pride Toronto, announced that the Toronto Police Service (TPS) will march in the 2019 parade in uniform, following their absence in the last two parades.

In the 2016 parade, a Black Lives Matter protest successfully demanded that police floats be removed and officers not show up in uniform for future parades. Some view the upcoming re-entry of police as a step forward for the community’s relationship with the TPS.

But it has also drawn ire, particularly among marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community, whose negative experiences with the TPS had made it difficult for them to attend the event in the past. They had been strongly supportive of the absence of the TPS.

One can understand the desire to portray a united front when trying to achieve reconciliation. The presence of the TPS at the Pride Parade might one day become a symbol of the triumph of community and love over injustice and persecution.

However, it is inappropriate to access this symbol until that triumph has actually been attained in an effective and permanent capacity. Many of the most vulnerable among us still feel as though their relationship with the police has a long way to go toward respect and repair. 

A demonstration in opposition to police in uniform at Pride was held in front of Pride Toronto’s headquarters on November 3. Organized by Ashley Cooper, the Facebook event for the demonstration drew support from over 1,000 individuals.

The event was attended by leaders in the LGBTQ+ community, including Nick Mulé, an associate professor at York University and the Chair of Queer Ontario, sociologist and activist Gary Kinsman, one of Canada’s leading academics on LGBTQ+ issues, and Alphonso King Jr., also known as DJ Relentless and Jade Elektra.

Their speeches were impassioned, focused, and reflected a bitter frustration toward the executive directorship of Pride Toronto for what feels to many community members like a severe betrayal of Pride’s history of resistance.

It is important to recognize that the Pride festival exists to commemorate the progress made by activists against decades of violence abetted and often executed by governmental and law enforcement bodies. 

Kinsman opened his address by introducing himself as one of the organizers of Toronto’s first Pride event held in  June 1981.

“I want to remind people a little bit first of all about the history of that first Pride. 1981 was the year of the bath raids and the mass resistance on the part of our communities to the police invasions of our lives, the arrests, and all of the horror that occurred as a result of those raids.”

37 years ago, on February 5, 1981, the Metropolitan Toronto Police conducted a raid of four bathhouses, arresting 286 men and prompting outrage from Toronto’s gay and lesbian community and its public allies.

Toronto Pride Week grew out of the mass protests that ensued, which were organized against not only the raids, but also against the systemic discrimination of the queer community perpetrated by the city’s police force. 

The insistence that the officers be allowed to march in uniform is accordingly troubling. The attempt to paint the social institution of policing as an ally in those achievements, as opposed to its historical role as aggressor and deterrer, is misleading.

“It’s right there at the top of their website: ‘To Serve and Protect.’ But to serve and protect who?” Cooper asked of those in attendance at the November 3 demonstration.

Recent interactions between the community and the police indicate that the relationship is far from healed.

In the fall of 2016, it was brought to the public’s attention that the police were engaging in an undercover operation titled Project Marie, in which police arrested 72 individuals after luring them into soliciting sex acts at Marie Curtis Park. The 89 charges laid were almost entirely bylaw infractions, a baffling choice considering that undercover operations are utilized primarily for cases of criminal activity.

This year, the arrest of Bruce McArthur for the first-degree murder of eight men between 2010 and 2017 dug a deeper schism between the community and the TPS. In December 2017, already months into an investigation, Chief Mark Saunders claimed that there was no evidence of a serial killer targeting the gay community.

Not only did the TPS publicly deny the connection of the disappearances to a serial murderer, but a statement released by Pride Toronto in April revealed that the community had earlier voiced their concern about the disappearances, only to be dismissed by the investigators.

At the demonstration, it was made clear that many feel that the decision to once again extend the invitation to police is primarily based on a threat to Pride of losing its government funding.

“‘It has come to threaten our very existence as a publicly funded non-profit community organization.’ That is a direct quote from their statement,” Cooper cited from Pride Toronto’s announcement. 

To insist that the LGBTQ+ community be the first to extend their hands in friendship to the police, especially in invitation to an event that is such an emblem of rebellion against oppression, is neither fair nor reasonable when reciprocal efforts toward reconciliation have not yet been appropriately rendered.

“The people who wear the badge are welcome,” Cooper said. “It is the badge we have asked to stay at home.”

Anna Osterberg is a first-year Master of Teaching student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

The corporatization of queer liberation

Pinkwashing at Toronto’s Pride Parade

The corporatization of queer liberation

H aving some sort of Pride celebration during the summer months is now par for the course for many major city centres, and more and more, the festivities are spreading into even smaller urban areas. Owen Sound, Ontario, had its very first pride parade this year.

As queer events garner broader attendance, they have also become sought after opportunities for corporate sponsorship and advertisement. However, these advertisements often provoke widespread criticism — can Pride demonstrations stay true to their founding spirit of queer liberation when they’re bankrolled by major corporations?

To spectators at this year’s Pride Parade in Toronto, a corporate presence was extremely visible. Most of the large scale floats sported rainbow coloured logos of large companies like Canada Trust or Bud Light. Yet, while these corporate floats loomed large over the pedestrian element of the parade, many groups on foot carried signage protesting that same corporate involvement, with slogans such as “You Can’t Buy My Pride” or “The ‘T’ in LGBTQ Doesn’t Stand for ‘TD’.”

For some, corporate sponsorship is a benign and necessary aspect of contemporary Pride movements and celebrations. For others, it’s pinkwashing big business trying to appear queer-friendly in order to seem progressive and gain new marketing opportunities, without necessarily caring about or contributing to the community.

While complaints against corporate involvement in queer events are becoming more frequent, the political environment has changed dramatically. With government funding for queer non-profits already scarce and potentially becoming more so (if the recently scrapped LGBTQ+-friendly sexual education curriculum is any indication), there’s also the question of whether these groups can continue to do work for the queer community without relying on private and corporate funding.

Origins of Pride

The origin of these mid-year celebrations and most contemporary queer organizing is usually acknowledged as the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

In 1969 New York, it was illegal to ‘solicit homosexual relations.’ On June 28 of that year, police conducted a series of raids on bars in Greenwich Village that were thought to be gathering places for the queer community. This culminated in a raid on the Stonewall Inn, which broke into a queer struggle against the police, who ended up barricaded inside the inn.

While members of the community deserve to be highlighted in the events of that night most notably, trans woman Marsha P. Johnson, who is credited with throwing the first stone of the riots much of the lasting significance of that night was the lesson of how the queer community could band together to fight their diverse oppressions.

After that night, queer liberation movements gained visibility and momentum. More locally, Toronto Pride celebrations grew out of the Bathhouse Raids of 1981. The Toronto police forces coordinated raids on four major bathhouses that they suspected of prostitution and ‘indecent acts’ — read: queer sexuality.

After a whopping 286 arrests, the raids marked a turning point in Toronto’s queer liberation movement. The queer community grew increasingly politicized and refused to be swept under the rug by police, media, or the public.

Both these events occured, of course, long before large companies would have had any interest in sponsoring queer movements. So how do the events of 1969 and 1981 compare to our modern Pride celebrations, where corporate sponsorships feature prominently in queer organizing?

STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

Contemporary Pride

While both the Stonewall and Bathhouse riots were protests, modern Pride has incorporated more and more celebratory aspects, as milestones of LGBTQ+ liberation become more frequent.

Now that larger corporations and even governments wish to share in Pride celebrations, there is often more competition for visibility.

This was clear in the summer of 2016, when Black Lives Matter (BLM) Toronto staged a protest in the Pride Parade over the growing marginalization of the Black queer community within Pride celebrations.

Pride Toronto ultimately agreed to Black Lives Matter Toronto’s demands. That same year, Justin Trudeau marked the first time that a Canadian Prime Minister ever walked in a Pride celebration, but Trudeau did so without ever publicly acknowledging the BLM protest to which he was in such close proximity.

These events raise questions of who should be privileged and visible at events of queer celebration. As the signage shows, many protestors at this year’s Pride parades and marches argued that corporate sponsorship didn’t belong. However, at the same time, Pride is a non-profit organization. Since it charges no admission to its events, sponsorships are vital to its ability to create queer spaces.

I wrote to Undergraduate Director and Lecturer Dai Kojima from the University of Toronto’s Sexual Diversity Studies Program about the dilemma that queer non-profits find themselves in.

When asked about the potential benefits and risks of major corporate sponsorship, Kojima responded that he viewed the situation as “more complicated than good/bad.” In Kojima’s opinion, “it is too easy to blame non-profits as being complicit in capitalism — as if they can ‘refuse’ to take the money.” He continued, “Many organizations are barely getting by and fighting over small pools of money to fund their programs, pay minimum salaries to their dedicated staff, and rent a basic work space to gather and organize activities.”

Kojima said that not all queer non-profits would even have the option of relying solely on non-corporate funding, especially non-profits that serve the most marginalized elements of the LGBTQ+ community, such as “racial and ethno-specific communities, homeless youths, sex workers, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, to name a few.”

He explained that “in the context of Toronto/Ontario, governmental support for these intersectional, queer non-profit organizations is shrinking rapidly — a dire situation made worse by the current Premier’s attack on social supports and public education on gender and sexual diversity.” This means that many more organizations are forced to turn to corporate support to stay viable.

Further, Kojima wrote, “We really have to understand the ambivalent and conflicted ways in which queer organizations — both big and small — work with corporations and governments to fund their work.”

Noulmook Sutdhibhasilp, Executive Director of the non-profit Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS), echoed Kojima’s call for nuance in these discussions. He noted that issues of corporate sponsorship are directly linked to “a bigger social justice issue” — that is, the “neo-liberalism agenda that shrinks government’s welfare state and continues to direct the responsibilities of social, health, education and other services to be dictated by the market.”

For Sutdhibhasilp, this makes corporate sponsorships essential in providing services to marginalized communities in Toronto and elsewhere.

Sutdhibhasilp also expressed that while “many people are turned off by corporate logos and conditions they impose,” the “PRIDE spirit is in celebrating who we are” and taking up space in the mainstream.

SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

Who are the sponsors?

Sponsors vary widely in industry and how actively they support the queer community, outside of the weekend of Toronto Pride. One of Pride Toronto’s most noted sponsors is TD Banking, which sponsors 83 Pride festivities around North America while also supporting over 160 LGBTQ+ organizations and initiatives.

On the flip side, Bud Light is a major sponsor of Pride Toronto, yet was also a major sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. This move was widely criticized due to reports of Russia’s recent and well-documented persecution of LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly its anti-gay purges in Chechnya.

There are also sponsors like Remington’s Men of Steel strip bar, which supports Pride while arguably promoting cisnormative views of beauty and pleasure.

Nevertheless, all of these businesses are willing to put their profits into funding initiatives like Pride Toronto. Is this contribution enough, in return for all the benefits that they get through exposure at Toronto Pride? Or do corporations that can appear accepting and progressive through sponsoring events like Pride have more of a responsibility to engage with the queer community, as TD Bank and other sponsors try to do?

Kojima argued that the debate should not focus on whether corporate money is “always already bad” so much as on questions such as “which agendas are deemed safe and worthy in the eyes of corporate philanthropic programs and which voices remain on the margins?” and, “what systems of value and valuation are at work when corporate and government money is unevenly distributed?”

In that framework, organizations like Pride seem safer and less controversial than organizations serving more marginalized elements of the community, and therefore receive more corporate funding. This leaves organizations serving ethno-culturally specific or poverty stricken aspects of the queer community struggling for funds to keep their services going.

For anyone wanting to support some of those organizations who receive less governmental and corporate funding and remain on the margins, here are a few places you could start:

  • Rainbow Railroad: an organization helping LGBTQ+ people from around the world escape state-sponsored violence
  • Casey House: Canada’s only stand-alone hospital for HIV/AIDS patients
  • Youthline: a completely anonymous hotline for queer youth that provides referrals, support, and recommendations for resources
  • ACAS: mentioned briefly above, this organization works to make HIV/AIDS information, as well as general LGBTQ+ resources, available to East and Southeast Asian Communities

SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

Symbolic appropriation?

On a broader scale, questions regarding the effects of the widespread use of queer symbols by large corporations remain. While it can be positive for queer symbols to be more widely accepted and mainstream, Kojima noted that “we must be skeptical of the belief that circulation of symbols and mass consumption of them will somehow lead to some kind of liberation.”

The recent controversy surrounding the new Philadelphia Pride Flag, which incorporates black and brown stripes into the traditional rainbow flag to represent inclusion of queer people of color, highlights this. As Toronto recently experienced with the 2016 BLM protest, this is a much talked about issue in current queer organizing — the drive to ensure that people of color are not ignored when we talk about the queer community, and that this intersectionality is acknowledged.

It’s important to note that as of yet, no corporations have used the Philadelphia flag instead of the traditional rainbow colours. Perhaps the more frequently used “Love is Love” and “PRIDE” are safer, more consumer-friendly options, rather than embracing the contemporary face of the queer community and accepting potential controversy.

Kojima presented an ideal scenario, one that he stressed is only theoretical and not currently the way that corporate sponsorships work: “Ideally corporations should work with queer communities in order to first find out what the pressing needs of that particular community are and ask how their sponsorship will help that cause. Not the other way around.”

“Corporate donors need to let go of the expectation that their sponsorship and donation for queer events and programs will produce direct beneficial return (e.g. corporate visibility, increased positive public perception, monetary gains etc.), and instead should offer financial and other material supports because supporting these initiatives is the right thing to do.”

St. Michael’s College registrarial assistant has history of derogatory posts on social media

SMC administration aware of posts, “deplores” any derogatory language

St. Michael’s College registrarial assistant has history of derogatory posts on social media

Evidence has surfaced that St. Michael’s College (SMC) Registrarial Assistant Philip Hicks-Malloy’s social media have included derogatory posts that have targeted women, Muslims, and other marginalized groups.

Many of the postings targeted prominent female politicians, including former US Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, with a post calling her “a lying, satanic witch from hell.” The postings also shared a video about former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, above which he commented, “This Whore Bitch!!!!!!”

Screenshot taken from Facebook.

Among the content that has been shared on Hicks-Malloy’s social media was a post that called halal — a guideline that includes what foods are permissible in Islam — a “symbol of treason.” The post was a response to confectionary company Cadbury producing halal foods. On this shared post, Hicks-Malloy’s social media had added a comment saying, “Boycott this product!”

Also included was a shared post on Facebook that read, “People of European descent need to wake up and realize that our culture and identity is being strategically attacked by the Left,” as well as a post that claimed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was legalizing bestiality, which Trudeau has not.

Screenshot taken from Facebook.

Hicks-Malloy’s social media also shared posts from alt-right figures such as Faith Goldy and Milo Yiannopoulos. Goldy has been associated with white nationalists, is a former contributor at The Rebel Media, and is running for mayor of Toronto. Yiannopoulos, a former editor for far-right website Breitbart, has made derogatory comments toward marginalized groups in the past and collaborated with white nationalists.

Also on Hicks-Malloy’s Facebook timeline were many posts criticizing Toronto Pride, with one saying that Black Lives Matter had “infiltrated… [Toronto] Pride and have turned everyone against the police.”

Hicks-Malloy, who, according to his Facebook profile, is in a same-sex marriage, had described himself in a Facebook comment on his timeline as a “gay Homophobe,” and he had also shared a post saying that “the greatest threat to LGBT rights is the Liberal LGBT community.”

The Varsity reached out to Hicks-Malloy multiple times for comment but did not receive a reply. Soon after The Varsity’s attempts to reach him, many of his social media accounts, including Facebook and YouTube, were deleted.

In response to the discovery of Hicks-Malloy’s social media accounts in June 2018, then-SMC President David Mulroney told The Varsity in an email that “the University of St. Michael’s College deplores any use of language that fails to acknowledge the dignity, respect and worth of every person and that is inconsistent with the values of the University, which are rooted in the Gospel.”

Screenshot taken from Facebook.

According to then-SMC Director of Communications, Events, and Outreach Stefan Slovak, SMC had discovered the issue a few days prior to The Varsity’s request for comment in June 2018. Slovak said that they are “taking the issue seriously, but cannot comment further.”

SMC’s new president, David Sylvester, told The Varsity in an email, “I became aware of this situation when I began my term at the beginning of July, and am aware of a previous statement made at the time by President David Mulroney, which captures our current position perfectly.”

“We take this matter seriously, and are not in a position to offer any further comment at this time,” wrote Sylvester.

When asked about the situation this month, he responded, “St. Michael’s has addressed this situation in full accordance with the University’s policies.”

“St. Michael’s takes seriously its responsibilities to ensure that all USMC community members conduct themselves professionally at all times. We will not be commenting further regarding what is now an internal matter,” he continued.

According to Hicks-Malloy’s LinkedIn profile, which has also been deleted, he has worked for SMC for 29 years. As of press time, Hicks-Malloy is still listed as a registrarial assistant on SMC’s website.

A summer’s worth of opinions

A compilation of Comment-in-Briefs in reaction to some of the major stories of the summer semester

A summer’s worth of opinions

The new School of Cities could be the pivotal voice we need for complex urban issues, as long as it pulls together

Re: “U of T’s School of Cities to Launch July 1”

U of T’s new School of Cities has vowed to tackle urban-related issues through interdisciplinary methods and collaborations. However, finding more coherent information on the partnerships or direction of this school has been unsatisfying. Apart from their slogans, the School of Cities’ website features pictures and short descriptions of the professors comprising the Interim Working Group, and three articles and two podcast links which are informative but overlap in content.

On the one hand, this is a frustrating start to an institution that encompasses many of the most important and immediate issues of our modernizing time. With Associate Director Shauna Brail calling the School “a big-tent approach” to urban research, and U of T President Meric Gertler claiming it to be a “hub in a global network” of scholars and practitioners, the school is not lacking in grand objectives. However, this has so far failed to reveal convincing short-term targets.

On the other hand, the school has only taken its very first public baby steps, and a definite outline of objectives often hurts the creativity of budding institutions. Cities are the playgrounds of the future, and though the school shouldn’t have to trudge carefully toward a path, they need to pave their way holistically. The extremely diverse group of professors seems to suggest an optimistic direction, as they draw from Civil and Mineral Engineering to Indigenous Health to Women and Gender Studies.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect about the School of Cities is the bridge it shall attempt to build between theory and practice. Hopefully the school will encourage U of T students to help build this bridge and contribute significantly to not only the initiatives, but the very soul of the institution.

For students and urban dwellers in general, never have cities felt more saturated with potential, yet held back by issues regarding housing, transportation, and public safety, to name a few. The School of Cities presents an exciting and critical opportunity for diverse urban communities to contribute to the dialogue of the future of cities.

Grace Ma is a second-year English and Environmental Sciences student at Trinity College.


We cannot have religious freedom at the expense of social equality

Re: “Trinity Western loses Supreme Court case on religious freedom v. LGBTQ+ rights”

IRIS DENG/THE VARSITY

The battle between the constitutional right to freedom of religion and LGBTQ+ rights has taken shape in Trinity Western University’s (TWU) Supreme Court case against the Law Societies of British Columbia and Ontario. Unsurprisingly, the university lost the case seven to two.

The very law that allows the evangelical Christian university to exist has been proven to have clear boundaries. When pitted against each other, religious freedom comes second in modern Canadian society to discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. The problem with the covenant signed by all TWU students is that it requires abstinence from any sexual intimacy, not only outside of a heterosexual marriage, but also from any intimacy that “violated the sacredness” of that marriage. This very clearly alienated the LGBTQ+ population, allowing TWU to deny them admission.

U of T campus group LGBTOUT, the intervenors on the case, brought this very point up, arguing that the proposed law school would bar LGBTQ+ students solely based on sexual or gender preferences, which is clearly a discriminatory action.

The case was a big win for the LGBTQ+ community as the Supreme Court clearly announced that the law must protect each and every individual of the Canadian population. The court’s decision came at a celebratory time, enhancing the joy and excitement for Pride Month.

This is not the first time TWU has faced the Supreme Court over religious freedoms. I expect it to continue happening over different issues until TWU recognizes that although religious freedom is crucial to a democratic society, its importance should never surpass the importance of equality in a society that is constantly growing and changing.

Varsha Pillai is a first-year Social Sciences student at University College.


Provost’s action plan does not account for safety or student leadership

Re: “Alcohol at Trinity events can no longer be paid for with student fees”

VASSILIA JULIA AL AKAILA/THE VARSITY

In an email correspondence informing Trinity College students of the administration’s action plan, the Office of the Provost mentions their “aim to improve transparency and communications, while focusing on education, safety and harm reduction, and leadership development.”

As a Trinity College student, I feel that there are numerous inconsistencies with this statement.

First, putting forward an action plan without adequate consultation with student leaders undermines the direct democracy and commitment to student autonomy that has defined Trinity College tradition. Preventing student leaders from spending student fees in a manner they deem fit does not make for effective leadership development. While it’s true that not all students are drinkers, the reality of student fees is that they do not always benefit each student individually.

Second, focusing on safety and harm reduction includes acknowledging that a significant percentage of young adults are going to drink. Harm reduction involves creating a safe environment in which students are familiar with their surroundings and have non-punitive support networks when it comes to alcohol consumption, including a sober patrol and Dons in case of emergency. Moving such events off campus does not guarantee such an environment.

Additionally, the claim that the administration created this action plan primarily due to a 10-month survey of students is dubious given the college’s response to a motion of no confidence passed at the Trinity College Meeting (TCM) last year.

The first meeting at the TCM included a motion of no confidence in which students shared their grievances regarding Dean Kristen Moore and her staff. The motion passed with an overwhelming majority, but it was then overlooked by Provost Mayo Moran, who ensured that she had “full confidence in [Moore].”

Avneet Sharma is a fourth-year English and Cinema Studies student at Trinity College.


The loss of popular locations for students points to a decline in affordability

Re: “Saint George hotel opens on Bloor Street West, replacing Holiday Inn”

SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

In July, the Saint George hotel officially opened in place of the Holiday Inn, Fox and Fiddle Pub, and New York Fries on Bloor Street West. After the Starbucks on College and Beverley Street also closed its doors earlier this year to make way for a condominium to be built by January 2020, there are now a total of four popular locations around campus that are no longer available for U of T students.

Holiday Inn housed many families when students visited U of T for the very first time. The Fox and Fiddle Pub had just the right vibe for all kinds of rendezvous, whether it be post-exam celebrations or simple get-togethers. New York Fries was the kitchen of Bloor Street that students resorted to after long hours at the library, often because they were too exhausted to walk any further.

Henceforth, these places will live only in the memories of soon-to-be graduates, while prospective students will no longer share the experience of what had already become part of the ‘typical U of T student’ routine.

From a student perspective, opening a luxury hotel such as the Saint George in the Annex is not ideal, considering its expensive price point of almost $300 per night. Although Gyubee — a somewhat pricey Japanese BBQ joint just across from the Saint George — had already broken the concept of affordable eateries in the Annex, the Saint George will now completely reform the image of a cost-friendly neighborhood for students. This end of the Annex is looking more and more like luxurious Yorkville.

Annie Hu is a third-year Criminology, Music, and Sociology student at Woodsworth College.