Inclusion on the Field and in the Workplace

How to explain the OPN Speakers’ Bureau? Within the Ontario Public Service (OPS) there are a number of employee networks. These are groups that allow like-minded employees to socialize, discuss issues and encourage each other at work. One of them is the Pride Network (OPN), and I volunteer as the director of their Speakers’ Bureau. The Bureau itself is a loosely organized collection of volunteers who have a passion for speaking and educating others about LGBTQ issues.

The Bureau has been around for five or six years: mostly filling requests across the province for presentations regarding queer concerns and awareness. Recently we’ve taken some pains to expand the Bureau and to revitalize our perspective: adding new speakers, expanding our training, developing new subjects. This event at PrideHouseTO (The 519 Community Centre) was our first that was self-sponsored: in which we promoted ourselves and spoke as a group. It was a completely public session, and since it was associated with the Pan Am Games, we chose as our topic “Inclusion on the Field and in the Workplace”.

It was a great success. The numbers were fairly small: during the three hours we had people drop in to visit, so there were over two dozen people who attended. But there was a core group through the whole thing. It was a great chance to meet the other speakers: and I was duly impressed by their presentation capacity. Some were emotional, some were inspiring: all were interesting and held our attention. I was particularly impressed at the degree to which we managed to interface the intended theme with our personal experiences. That’s not in our normal repertoire: but we did it very well. It is one thing to know that the LGBTQ community has faced oppression and difficulties in the past, and to know that we’ve only just started on that journey. It’s another to hear specific examples of what people have endured, and how they’ve overcome and are overcoming those complications. It was empowering to see a glimpse of how the speakers have grown: on the field, in the workplace, and as people.

The following was the speaking schedule: each speaker had roughly 15 minutes for a quick presentation. The relatively small audience meant that several presentations became discussions. We’re hoping that we’ll soon be able to repeat the presentations and expand the topics in other venues.

Speaker

Topic

Ian Bowles

Introduction: The OPN Speakers’ Bureau

Binh Lu

The Pride Network

Jeanette Munshaw

Diverse Work Family Interfaces: It’s Complicated

Jonathan Edwards

A Journey to Inclusion: My Career in Corrections

Ian Bowles

Religion & Homosexuality

Rose Ashe

Overcoming Expectations

Patty Anne Valenti

Coming out as an Introvert

David Morris

The Journey to PrideHouseTO

Andrea Roussel

The Influence of Sport on Trans experience

Neill Kernohan

Positive Space

Binh Lu

Closing Remarks

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