Creating an inclusive and diverse community on the Laurier Brantford campus, as well as the city in general, is important. The discussion of how to create this environment is one that is key to community.
“Brantford is a community that needs a lot more education on these types of issues. It’s not a matter of ignorance, it’s a lack of education on what it really means to be an ally or to be comfortable with being queer,” says Keyena Smith, Laurier Brantford’s Student Diversity Intern.
Diversity in the Classroom by Kate Reid educates teachers or those taking public service roles on how to create a more inclusive environment and how to deal with these types of issues. The event on March 16, 2013, was funded by Prism and hosted by MyRespect and the Rainbow Alliance.
“We still live in a sort of homophobic society and there is a lot [of] fear about coming out. A lot of people experience bullying and violence from society, family, friends, whatever, and I think it’s really important to lay it out,” says Reid, “Say the words, talk about it, because the more we are open about it, the more it ‘normalizes’ the whole thing.”
Creating awareness increases communication and encourages a safe, accepting environment for everyone.
“I think it’s really important for Laurier Brantford to have these sorts of workshops because it shows that as we grow as a campus, we’re also taking knowledge about inclusivity and diversity with us on that journey,” says Smith.
With growth, Laurier Brantford’s presence in the downtown area becomes more visible. A welcoming environment on campus can expand into the community.
“Activism is very important because if nobody is active on issues like this, nothing is going to change. You don’t have to be an extreme activist, but just the little things like telling people not to say ‘that’s so gay!’ or encouraging inclusive language and just stopping bullying overall in the classroom,” says Benjamin Vervaecke, Laurier Brantford’s Rainbow Alliance Coordinator.