Building a more collaborative approach to LGBTQ2SIA+ support

- July 28, 2017

"Proud at Dal" T-shirts as part of Dalhousie Pride Week. (Carter Hutton photo)
"Proud at Dal" T-shirts as part of Dalhousie Pride Week. (Carter Hutton photo)

Pride celebrations in Halifax come and go within a week each summer, but there are plenty of activities and supports that continue once the parades are over and the flags come down.

A new initiative to be housed out of Dalhousie Human Rights and Equity Services (HRES) aims to support groups doing work with LGBTQ2SIA+ communities on campus, better coordinate these efforts and pool their resources to create a more cohesive approach to support, advocacy and education year-round.

The LGBTQ2SIA+ Collaborative (Collaborative+) grew out of discussions between HRES, student-led group DalOUT, and South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre and will serve as a forum for communication and collaboration between these and other groups.

“We saw a need for more communication and more support for each other and for the people doing the work so we can make better decisions that will affect the most change for the most people,” says Rachele Manett, a peer educator with HRES and the former president of DalOUT.

Manett says the hope is the group will help break down silos between those groups looking to foster a more respectful and inclusive environment for LGBTQ2SIA+ students, faculty and staff on campus.

Collaborative+ consist of groups whose mandates are centered on celebration and/or advocacy work within LGBTQ2SIA+ communities. This includes groups from within LGBTQ2SIA+ communities, as well as allied groups.

A stepping-stone to greater visibility

HRES, DalOUT, South House, Dal’s Agricultural Campus, Dal Allies, the Dalhousie Student Union, Get Real, OUTLaw, the Centre for Learning and Teaching, the Queer Faculty Caucus, King’s Pride, and the King’s Student Union will each have up to two reps on Collaborative+, with other emerging stakeholder groups adding reps as warranted.

The group will meet bi-monthly to share information about upcoming events and activities and coordinate planning. Meetings will be co-chaired by the HRES Education Advisor with a secondary rotating co-chair to be chosen each April from within the group’s membership.

By working together like this, member groups can also help combat burnout in their ranks — a common occurrence in advocacy work, says Manett, who identifies as a queer woman.

If South House were planning an anti-oppression training workshop, for instance, and DalOUT was also looking to do one, the two groups could decide to combine their resources and hold one larger training session instead.

“There’s ultimately more people power here to be able to do the work,” says Manett.

A web-based portal hosted on the HRES website will also serve as an information-sharing resource as well as an active resource for existing members and newcomers to the community.

“If somebody is new to the community, visit the Collaborative+ website, and access resources for what they are interested in,” explains Manett. She hopes Collaborative+ will be a stepping-stone to creating a greater visible presence for LGBTQ2SIA+ groups on campus.

“I like to dream big and have big plans, but sometimes only little parts can be accomplished,” she says. “But this one feels like it’s actually happening, that the big dream is coming to fruition and we all have the support we need to create it and the community of people to support it.”

Learn more: Collaborative+ website


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