April 18, 2019
TORONTO, ON - Today, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) released a policy paper focusing on gender and sexual diversity at Ontario universities. The paper was written, approved, and published by students with the purpose of providing recommendations for improving post-secondary experiences for LGBTQ+ students at Ontario university campuses, including increasing safety and access.
"LGBTQ+ students continue to face institutional and interpersonal barriers that sustain unsafe and unsupportive climates throughout post-secondary education,” said Elizabeth Lindsay, Vice President of University Affairs for Trent Durham Student Association (TDSA). “Addressing existing barriers is imperative to ensuring that LGBTQ+ students are able to achieve the full scope of their professional and personal development while attending post-secondary education."
Students are concerned that current campus climates are both unaccommodating and unsafe for LGBTQ+ students, who face discrimination, harassment, or exclusion on campus because of who they are. They are concerned that faculty, campus security and police, and support staff do not have adequate training and education to meet the diverse needs of LGBTQ+ students. Further, the paper reveals that there is inadequate research and information about LGBTQ+ students and their experiences. Students are also concerned that existing policies can act as additional barriers for LGBTQ+ students to feel accepted and safe on campus. Finally, students are concerned that appropriate health care services are difficult to access, and that there are significant gaps in the supports and services available to LGBTQ+ students.
Overarching recommendations made by students in this paper begin with the establishment of a permanent campus LGBTQ+ climate unit within the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) that should include members of the LGBTQ+ student community. This campus LGBTQ+ climate unit would advise MTCU on issues and priorities for improving safety and accommodations on campus for LGBTQ+ students. Students also recommend that training and education on LGBTQ+ identities, issues, and histories be refined so that faculty, campus security and police, and support staff are able to provide meaningful allyship and contribute to a safe and supportive campus for LGBTQ+ students. Finally, students recommend that LGBTQ+ supportive physical and mental health care be made accessible to all students and that supports and services available to LGBTQ+ students on campus are increased and improved on to address existing gaps. The recommendations made in this paper are important to ensuring that all students feel safe and included on university campuses across Ontario.
This paper was written by students from OUSA member associations and presented to the OUSA Spring General Assembly on March 3rd for approval. This is an interim paper and will be revisited at OUSA Fall General Assembly in late 2019. To read the paper, please click here.
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OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.
Operations & Communications Director
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance