June is National Pride Month, and this year the Yukon celebrates Pride in August - we get to celebrate twice. And we will celebrate!
The Yukon 2SLGBTQIA+ community has achieved some significant wins over the last few years, including the banning of conversion therapy, and unparalleled access to gender affirming healthcare for members of the trans community. In April of this year, the Yukon Legislative Assembly passed a bill amending the Education Act guaranteeing that every Yukon school provide safe spaces, inclusive activities, and initiatives like Gender Sexuality Alliances to foster inclusion for all students.
We celebrate these wins and honour those who have advocated and won legislative change, but a quick look at the chaos south of the 49th parallel reminds us we must continue fighting for inclusive legislation and to protect the rights already won.
2022 has been dubbed the "worst year in recent history for LGBTQ state legislative attacks" in the USA. In fact, national anti-gay groups have declared war on 2SLGBTQIA+ peoples' rights, introducing almost 240 anti-gay and anti-transgender bills already this year. Legislation like the so-called Don't Say Gay bill in Florida designed to deny the existence of non-binary, gay, queer and trans folx is gaining traction across the country. And we know that what happens south of the border has a way of seeping into Canadian politics very quickly.
Transgender youth are particularly at risk. In 2021, Republican lawmakers proposed over 110 anti-trans bills, many specifically targeting access to medical care for trans kids. Arkansas and Oklahoma passed laws banning access and criminalizing providers of gender affirming healthcare for transgender children in 2021, opening the floodgates for similar legislation in at least 5 more states. The increasingly emboldened transphobic vitriol and restrictive new laws could be catastrophic for thousands of vulnerable young people who already face higher health and suicide risks than their cisgender and straight peers.
Sadly, we know this is the thin edge of the wedge. Emboldened by their success, conservative transphobic and homophobic groups demand more and more regressive restrictions be placed on the millions of Americans who just want to live their lives in peace.
Statistics Canada data states that about million Canadians, or 4% of the population over 15 years old identify as members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, while about 75,000 Canadians are trans or non-binary. As union activists, it's our duty and honour to stand up for our friends, neighbours, colleagues and community members when discrimination and inequality threatens.
Celebrating Pride continues to be an act of joyful defiance in the face of those who would crush the human rights of such a huge and diverse group of people. So in 2022, Yukon Employees' Union will proudly rise in celebration of Pride in June, and we will celebrate again in August. In fact, we will continue to celebrate Pride and our Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, pan-sexual, and asexual friends and neighbours all year long. This year more than ever we can honour the activists, and we can fight like hell with, and for, our kindred.
The PSAC Regional Pride Committee welcomes YEU and PSAC members who identify as members of the Pride community. For more information, please contact the PSAC Regional Office in Whitehorse.