$145 Settlement Reached in Canadian Government LGBT Purge Class Action Lawsuit


Following the official apology by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the state-sponsored, systemic oppression, and rejection of LGBTQ citizens, McKiggan Hebert Lawyers has announced that an Agreement in Principle was recently reached between counsel for the class members and the Department of Justice to settle the LGBTQ Purge class action lawsuit.

The "LGBT Purge" refers to the Canadian government's systematic campaign between the 1950s and the 1990s to identify and purge lesbians, gay men, and those suspected of being gay from the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.

"It caused an enormous amount of pain, anguish and heartache to those impacted by this horrible movement initiated by the government," stated John McKiggan, partner at McKiggan Hebert Lawyers. "This purge, which lasted for decades, denied individuals their basic human rights and treated fellow Canadians like outcasts."

"I am pleased that after a great deal of hard work the parties have managed to reach an Agreement in Principle to settle the class-action," stated McKiggan. "Not only does the settlement provide compensation to address the harms suffered by class members, it also provides significant funding to reconciliation measures to I help class members heal and to educate Canadians about this chapter of our history."

McKiggan Hebert LLP is co-counsel in this class action with Koskie Minsky LLP and Cambridge LLP, IMK LLP. McKiggan Hebert Lawyers also recognizes the efforts of the representative plaintiffs, Alida, Martine and Todd in leading this groundbreaking class-action lawsuit and the courage they showed in sharing their deeply personal stories.

Highlights of Settlement

A total financial settlement valued at up to $145 million
A fund for individual compensation valued at up to $110 million
Individual compensation will range based on harm suffered from a minimum of $5,000 up to a maximum of $150,000
A fund for Reconciliation and Memorialization measures of at least $15 million
Read all settlement highlights here.

Egale Canada to undertake second national inquiry of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Canadian schools


 Egale Canada is proud to announce that, following a successful and revealing first national school climate survey, it will be partnering once again with Dr. Catherine Taylor and Dr. Tracey Peter to do a second national inquiry on the state of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia in Canadian schools. This next inquiry will measure what's working and what needs to be done for LGBTQI2S students in schools across Canada.

"At Egale we recognize a need across Canada for more inclusive schools," said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director at Egale Canada. "The first report we did is evidence of that need and has lead Egale to create nationwide programs to support safer and accepting school environments."

Ten years ago, Egale partnered with Dr. Catherine Taylor, Director of the RISE Research program on LGBTQ-inclusive Education at the University of Winnipeg and Dr. Tracey Peter, Professor and Associate Head of Sociology at the University of Manitoba, to undertake the first Canadian survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in our schools.

"We are looking forward to partnering with Egale for the second national inquiry, said Dr. Peter, who will lead the project. "Following up on our original report will help establish any progress we've made and identify what still needs to be done to make Canadian schools safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQI2S youth."

From the survey, Egale produced the report, Every Class in Every School, released in 2012. Among many other statistics, the report showed that 74% of trans students and 55% of sexual minority students in Canada reported being verbally harassed because of their gender expression compared to 26% of non-LGBTQ students. Following the outcomes of this survey, Egale developed a Safer and Accepting Schools program, which is now implemented nationwide to promote safer environments for students through educational workshops and resources. The second national inquiry will be an extension of the work Egale has done to promote more inclusive school environments.

"The need for research like this is imperative," said Dr. Taylor, who led the original study. "The statistics we found the first time around were appalling and there has been a great deal of work by educators and school officials across the country to improve the situation. We have a responsibility to follow up and ensure that changes are being made."

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About Egale Canada
Egale works to improve the lives of LGBTQI2S people in Canada and to enhance the global response to LGBTQI2S issues. Egale achieves this by informing policy, inspiring cultural change and promoting human rights and inclusion through research, education and community engagement. Egale also works to provide the LGBTQI2S community in Canada with access to essential services including counseling through Egale Youth OUTreach and crisis as well as transitional housing through the Egale Centre. Egale's vision is a Canada, and ultimately a world, without homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and all other forms of oppression so that every person can achieve their full potential, free from hatred and bias.

Victimization of Transgender Youths Linked to Suicidal Thoughts, Substance Abuse


 In two peer-reviewed papers, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found that transgender adolescents are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as the general population, and they are up to four times as likely to engage in substance use. Depression and school-based victimization factored heavily into the disparities in both cases. The papers are the first set of studies using representative, population-based data to examine whether bias against transgender youths is associated with higher levels of suicidal thoughts and greater alcohol, cigarette and drug use.

The new research, published this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and today in the Journal of Adolescent Health, involves researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Previous studies have used what is known as community convenience samples to document risks to transgender youths, but the new study uses representative data that can be generalized to a statewide population.

“Like all students, transgender youth deserve to be safe and supported at school. We have the first population-based, representative data to document the high risk for suicide and substance abuse among transgender youth,” said Stephen Russell, professor of human development and family sciences at UT Austin. “These results show that reducing depression and victimization for transgender students should significantly reduce their suicide-related risk.”

Studies based on representative and population-based data sets are important because results can be extrapolated to the general population. The current papers used the Biennial California Student Survey of middle and high school students from 2013 to 2015. This data set resulted in analysis of more than 25,000 students, including 335 transgender adolescents representing more than 1 percent of the student population.

The studies found that 34 percent of transgender youths reported suicidal thoughts in a year, nearly double that of the 19 percent reported by other adolescents. Transgender youths also had markedly higher levels of substance abuse, even when controlling for other risk factors. Students’ reported experiences of victimization appeared to factor into the higher rates of risky behavior.

When the analyses looked at factors that may account for disparities in substance abuse and suicidal thoughts among transgender youths, both depression and school-based victimization were linked to the disparities seen for transgender youths. Victimization was linked both to suicidal thoughts and to students being younger the first time they tried a variety of substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes and illegal drugs. It also led to higher reports of substance use over the lifetime.

“Findings across multiple studies underscore that transgender youth are at far greater risk of victimization at school than their non-transgender peers,” said Jack Day, a postdoctoral fellow with UT Austin’s Population Research Center. “This study highlights that heightened substance use is a likely consequence of these negative school experiences. School-based interventions that address victimization are needed, along with efforts to train faculty and staff on the unique needs of transgender youth, and provide access to gender-affirming health services."

“Many studies have shown that transgender youth are among the most vulnerable students in schools,” Russell said. “If we can reduce depression and victimization among transgender youth, we could make a dent in suicide and other risks like high substance use among these children.”

Additional authors include Mark Hatzenbuehler and Amaya Perez-Brumer of Columbia University and Jack Day of UT Austin. The research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Population Research Center at UT Austin and the New Venture Fund. WestEd conducted the surveys in California for the California Department of Education.

Trevor Project & National Center for Transgender Equality File FOIA Request to DOE


Trevor Project and National Center for Transgender Equality Demand Documents on How Department of Education is Protecting LGBTQ youth

Organizations seek evidence of how policy changes are impacting Department of Education’s oversight to protect students across the country

The Trevor Project and National Center for Transgender Equality today sent a request under the Freedom of Information Act to the U.S. Department of Education to shine a light on its legal responsibility to protect the civil rights of transgender and other LGBTQ youth in schools across our nation.

This request comes after the Trump Administration rescinded the Department’s guidance on providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for transgender students, and the Department refused to produce documents in response to a request by 30 US Senators on how the change would impact ways the Department protects vulnerable students across the country.

“Schools have an obligation to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, and the Department of Education must ensure that they do so,” said Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of the Trevor Project. “Our letter today is a step toward holding the government accountable on behalf of transgender students and all LGBTQ youth across the country.”

According to Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, “Transgender students and their families deserve to know that the U.S. Department of Education will honor its mandated responsibility and moral duty to ensure all students can safely attend schools. We need the Trump Administration to be clearer about whether and how they will do that.”

See the full letter here. 

The Trevor Project is the leading and only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under the age of 25.  The Trevor Project offers a suite of crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as a peer-to-peer social network support for LGBTQ young people under the age of 25, TrevorSpace. Trevor also offers an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, a legislative advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and conducts research to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our Trevor Lifeline crisis counselors are available 24/7/365 at 866.488.7386.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people.

Annual AIDS Walk Kicks Off September 10 in Toronto


 Canada's most important annual HIV awareness and fundraising event, Scotiabank AIDS Walk Toronto, will take place on Sunday, September 10 at Barbara Hall Park. The Toronto Walk supports the vital HIV and sexual health education, outreach and support programs offered at ACT – the AIDS Committee of Toronto, the country's largest and leading HIV service organization.

The Toronto Walk, celebrating its 29th year, is a grassroots initiative of ACT to raise funds to improve the lives of people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS in Toronto.

With performances from famed Toronto Drag Queens Sofonda Cox and Vicki Lix, DJ Sumation and Forte Gay Men's Chorus, along with an exciting new route through Queen's Park, the Walk promises to be an exciting event for everyone to enjoy.

The #TiedTogether theme of the AIDS Walk National campaign uses the concept of red shoelaces in various configurations to reinforce the powerful idea of unity and togetherness as a way to combat the spread of HIV, and the stigma that often accompanies it.

Despite remarkable progress in the treatment and prevention of HIV since the mid-1990s, new infections occur in Toronto every day and stigma continues to impact people living with the virus, and is a root cause of new transmissions. Over 75,000 people are currently living with HIV in Canada, with over 19,000 living in Toronto.

"Having been to over 20 AIDS Walks here in Toronto, I am always overwhelmed by an incredible feeling of support and unity, being an HIV-positive individual and seeing thousands of people out to support you, that doesn't get old," says John Maxwell, Executive Director of ACT. 
Scotiabank AIDS Walk Toronto

Barbara Hall Park

519 Church Street

Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9

Sunday, September 10, 2017

10:00 a.m. – Registration

11:30 a.m. – Opening Ceremonies

12:00 p.m. – AIDS Walk Begins

1:15 p.m. – Post-Walk Entertainment Continues

2:30 p.m. – Closing Remark