OutSport Toronto to Present Workshop at TDSB Futures 2012 Conference

11 February 2012

Members of OUTSPORT TORONTO's member organisations have stories of exclusion, bullying, and harassment in gym class.  We also have great stories of inclusive and welcoming experiences as members of our various sport and recreation groups.  We are in a unique position to offer insight into making physical education and ahtletics programmes more inclusive and accessible.  So, when the Toronto District School Board requested that OUTSPORT TORONTO submit a proposal to run a workshop at the TDSB's "Futures 2012 Conference - Equity and Inclusive Education" (3 - 5 May 2012, AllStream Centre), we jumped at the chance!

OUTSPORT TORONTO assembled a committee – members of our organisations, augmented by TDSB and other educators – and went to work on an abstract and the rest of our proposal, which was approved in January (see below).  OUTSPORT TORONTO will be presenting to teachers, students, principles, vice-principles, trustees, Ministry of Education personnel, and others Friday afternoon, 4 May 2012!

With under three months to go until the conference, OUTSPORT TORONTO's TDSB Futures 2012 committee is working hard on putting together a session that will demonstrate the clear and present need for change in our physical education programs, and will, with the help of the TDSB educators on our committee, offer practical advice on how teachers, administrators and students can make a difference immediately.

OUTSPORT TORONTO is pleased to be able to develop this workshop, in-line with on our missions of promoting sport, recreation, health and wellness, and healthy living to the broader LGBT community (in this case LBGT youth in our schools), and effectively advocating to external parties.  If one teacher goes back to his or her school and makes a positive difference, it will all be worth it!

If you would like to know more about this workshop, or would like to get involved in its development, please contact james.scott@OutSportToronto.org .

Session Abstract: Making It Better Now: Ending Homophobia and Transphobia in School Athletics and Physical Education

Three quarters of LGBTQ students feel unsafe in at least one place at school, with PE change rooms rated as the most unsafe. Half of straight students agree. (EGALE Canada, 2009).

OutSport Toronto, in cooperation with educators from the TDSB and the University of Waterloo, have put together a workshop that will leverage our collective insights on the importance of an inclusive physical education and athletics programme, sharing our own experiences, and providing tactics and strategies that can be deployed in schools immediately.

The benefits of physical education are undisputed. A physical education program - including intramurals and varsity athletics - builds healthy students, and builds long lasting character traits such as teamwork, dedication, perseverance, and confidence. These benefits must be afforded to all students, yet the fact is many students feel unsafe from the gymnasium, to the track, to the field, to the PE change room.

The members of OutSport Toronto have experienced the homophobia and exclusion of high school athletics, the inclusiveness of LGBTQ sports associations, and the joy of being part of the team . We know how important it is to eradicate homophobia - the last bastion of acceptable discriminatory language - from our schools’ athletics and physical education programmes, and create an environment where everyone can get out and play and be safe.

Toronto District School Board Futures 2012 Conference Site: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/microsites/futures
OUTSPORT TORONTO session page: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/microsites/futures/pdfs/Seminar_Fri_PM_08.pdf

gym class