TORONTO, June 20, 2023
June marks Pride Month—a time to recognize and celebrate diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, the strengths of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and all the important achievements, both individually and as a community, that have been made over the last several decades. It is also a time to reflect on the unique challenges that the 2SLGBTQ+ community and individuals face and remember the historical significance and origins of Pride Month.
Pride was born out of protest. During the 1969 Stonewall riots, 2SLGBTQ+ activists and primarily trans women of colour stood up against discrimination and demanded that queer folks should be able to take and maintain their rightful space in our communities, and that everyone should have the freedom to be who they are and love who they love. It is because of the brave actions of these individuals that we can celebrate Pride Month the way we do today.
Unfortunately, as we have recently seen, there are places, including right here in Ontario, where the community is still under attack. This year, Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) adds its voice to those who are concerned about discrimination, lack of inclusion, and aggression shown towards 2SLGBTQ+ youth in some Ontario schools and municipalities. The recent banning of pride flags and the dismissive response to 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, advocates, and allies to the request to be included and celebrated in their communities will have a direct impact on the mental health of our 2SLGBTQ+ children and youth. This is particularly troubling, given that the 2SLGBTQ+ community already faces significantly higher risks for multiple mental health challenges.
Approximately one million people identify as members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Canada, with a disproportionately large number being youth under the age of 25. In addition to the discrimination and the social determinants of health that disproportionately impact the mental health and well-being of 2SLGBTQ+ people, some may also experience other forms of marginalization such as racism, sexism, poverty, or other factors. CMHO and its child and youth mental health agencies are fully committed to supporting the mental health of 2SLGBTQ+ children and youth, 365 days a year. We stand in solidarity with the equity-deserving 2SLGBTQ+ community and will continue to do our part to advocate for an Ontario where all our children and youth can thrive. Let’s continue to move forward in celebration and in protest; anything less is unacceptable.
CMHO and The New Mentality (TNM) are urging Ontarians to be inclusive and support affirming mental health care services for our 2SLGBTQ+ children and youth. Some actions to take can include:
- Family and friends of 2SLGBTQ+ people can acknowledge Pride Month and be supportive on an ongoing basis.
- Employers can provide an inclusive and supportive workplace for 2SLGBTQ+ employees and customers, such as the inclusion of affirming health benefits and human resources supports.
- Neighbourhood groups and associations can host a celebration to be supportive.
- Governments can help to address the social determinants of health, support increased culturally competent mental health services, and enact policies to help stop the discrimination against the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
- Youth and families can visit CMHO or Rainbow Health Ontario to find help and resources near them.
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Jessica Behnke, Director, Strategic Relations and Communications
About Children’s Mental Health Ontario Children’s Mental Health Ontario:
(CMHO) is the association representing Ontario’s public providers of child and youth mental health services. Our nearly 100 member organizations operate in every region of the province, providing treatment and support to infants, children, youth, and families. Services include targeted prevention, early intervention, short- and long-term counselling and therapy, addictions services, intensive services, and acute care. With the combined strength of our members, partners, youth and families, our primary goal is to promote a coordinated and high performing system of care that puts children, youth, and families first, so that young people get the mental health supports they need to thrive.