Laurier celebrates Pride Month and encourages inclusivity

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Graphic by Jamie Mere

The end of June marks the end of Pride Month at Wilfrid Laurier University, but that doesn’t mean the efforts towards inclusivity come to a halt.

Throughout the month of June, WLU made various efforts to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community, including flying the rainbow flag for the duration of the month and participating in Toronto’s Pride March.

Michael Woodford, Associate Professor of Social Work at WLU and expert on mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, described pride as “a month where we are celebrating LGBTQ people and the diversity of our community.”

“It’s so important because of the representation and the inclusion. When we think about Pride Month the fact that universities do things to recognize LGBTQS+ students is a very symbolic act of commitment and acknowledgement,” Woodford said.

The timing of Pride Month, falling in line with the spring semester with a vastly decreased student presence, means the university’s pride festivities are planned to cater to a smaller audience.

“Because pride happens to be celebrated in June, the majority of the student population is not here,” said Woodford. “If pride was in October we would probably be doing a lot more than what we do now.”

WLU has continued to make strides towards spreading the feelings of inclusion and representation sparked during Pride Month into the university space year-round.

The work done by the centre for diversity, equity and inclusion, the Rainbow Centre and other student-led initiatives has been invaluable in making WLU a more comfortable space for LGBTQ+ individuals.

“Those kinds of peer support and peer mentorship are really important, especially for students who are coming to Laurier in the future,” said Woodford.

Universities are extremely multifaceted institutions, and making sure that every facet of WLU is equally inclusive to all students is a priority. Laurier is making continual efforts to work towards this goal.

This includes ensuring that the spaces at WLU are LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces. The recent institution of gender inclusive residence buildings is a huge step towards gender equity for trans and non-binary identifying students.

A shift toward inclusivity within academic content is another effort being made by faculty at WLU.

“Being intentional around our programming and inclusive in our classroom activities in really important” said Woodford.

“If you’re teaching a course on sexuality, you ensure you’re also speaking on LGBTQ sexuality…If you’re teaching a course about gender, you are speaking about transgender, not just men and women.”

An increase in sessions on trans inclusion on campus and ally training for non-LGBTQ+ students who want further education on how to be respectful and supportive of their LGBTQ+ counterparts are steps which could be taken in the future to increase inclusivity of the WLU community.

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