One of the best things about university is the diversity of people you will meet. Whether you identify as GSD or have limited knowledge about being an ally, there are resources available and you’ll find that the U of S is a positive and affirming place when it comes to the issues of Gender and Sexual Diversity. If you find the terminology surrounding gender and sexual diversity to be confusing, be sure to read OUTSaskatoon’s Queer Terminology.
On Campus Organizations
USSU Pride Centre
The USSU Pride Centre is a friendly and progressive environment that advocates, celebrates, and affirms sexual and gender identity. They welcome a diverse group of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and offer a listening ear for those who want it. In addition to hosting events, programs, and a welcoming space on campus, the USSU Pride Centre has an extensive collection of books and magazines focused on sexual orientation and gender identity issues that are available for all U of S undergraduate students. There is also information on safer sex and community organizations. All students are encouraged to stop by and check out the USSU Pride Centre and ALL students are welcome to volunteer with them. To find out about more about Pride Centre programs and events on campus look for the USSU booth at Welcome Week, connect with the Pride Centre on Facebook, and sign up for email notifications.
Provost’s Advisory Committee on Gender and Sexual Diversity
The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Gender and Sexual Diversity aims to educate the campus community and raise awareness about gender and sexual identities that fall outside of the dominant heteronormative culture. They advise the Provost and University administration on gender and sexual diversity issues and collaborate with the USSU Pride Centre.
Workshops and Groups
Supported by the Pride Centre, the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Gender and Sexual Diversity facilitates Positive Space Workshops. Positive Space workshops focus on creating inclusive spaces on campus by sharing knowledge about terminology, privilege, and how to de-gender speech to speak and act in a sensitive manner.
- Positive Space 101 workshops are open to all students, staff, and faculty on campus and the Pride Centre will be holding a workshop each month starting September 2015.
- Creating Positive Space workshops are longer and directed toward staff and volunteers of frontline services for students. Upon completion of the Creating Positive Space workshop, attendees are awarded a certificate and attending units are given a poster to identify their Unit, centre, or service as a positive space.
All new university students can find it challenging to build a support community, yet students who identify outside of the dominant culture may face increased challenges. To help ease your transition into university life, the USSU Pride Centre offers programs and events throughout the fall and winter terms.
USSU Pride Centre Discussion Groups are facilitated by volunteers and the Pride Centre coordinator and operate during the school year (fall and winter terms). They have:
- Queer Men’s Night – For all Queer Men to come together for a night of fun and friends!
- Queer Women’s Night – For all Queer Women to come together for a night of fun and friends!
- Gender Revolution – This group provides a safe space to learn about and explore gender diversity. Through a mixture of discussion, community guests, movies, and presentations, this group meets to share and learn about our bodies, our spaces, our stories, and our identities. Allies welcome.
There is a growing number of Community Based Organizations and Programs GSD students and allies can connect with:
- OUTSaskatoon (formerly the Avenue Community Centre) has a sexual health clinic, offers educational workshops and training, and hosts a variety of social groups. Check out their monthly programs and connect with them on Facebook.
- TransSask Support Services, Inc. is a province-wide support and resource network for all sexually and gender diverse people. To find and join a support group in Saskatchewan please contact the preferred group.
- Sanctuary Saskatoon supports gender and sexually diverse people of all religious backgrounds offering a safe space for readings, discussions, and prayers.
- Camp fYrefly (Saskatchewan) – is an educational, social, and personal learning retreat for sexual minority and gender variant youth (ages 14-24) that takes place in the summer – alternating between Saskatoon and Regina locations.
How to be an Ally
Tips from Other GSD Students
- Use whatever bathroom you want to use. Ask a Pride Centre volunteer (or email firstname.lastname@example.org) for the list of gender neutral bathrooms.
- Your personal information is yours to share or keep secret. The same goes for your friends – if someone is out to you but not to the world, it is not your place to out them.
- Don’t let stereotypes influence your own behaviour or opinions.
- Don’t cave in to ‘queer pressure’. You are not required to go to the bar every weekend and shout ‘yass gaga’ at every opportunity. Being queer is part of your identity … not your whole identity.
- For trans and non-binary folk whose chosen name is different from your legal name - email your professors before your first class even starts, tell them what class you’re in and at what time, and explain your situation! This is in case they’re the type of prof who does roll call. I’ve had profs call me by my birth name in front of entire classes and it is horrible. Now I email ahead of time. I’ve never had an unaccommodating prof, most of them are super understanding.
- Your sexuality or gender is only one part of who you are. Take time to know yourself and grow as an individual.
- Get involved with the Pride Centre ASAP because having fellow LGBT friends and support is valuable.
It’s easy to gravitate towards people who visibly display signs of being an ally, especially in a new and potentially scary environment. However, some people aren’t actually looking to befriend you. They are convinced that “having a gay friend” is a sign of how great they are, not how great you are. It’s a tough thing to learn, but be mindful of how they treat you – are you LGBT first or are you their friend first? You’re no one’s token and you’re not expected to behave like anyone other than yourself. If your ‘friend’ complains that you don’t behave or dress the way they expect, it’s likely they are not a true friend. Stop hanging out with them.