Youth Pride celebration a success at Whitby’s Regional HQ

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Published June 28, 2023 at 1:42 pm

A Drag Queen performed at the Youth Pride Durham event in 2023. - via Durham Region.

The annual Youth Pride Durham event at the Regional Headquarters in Whitby was a successful celebration of the local LGBT community.

The Region has held this event since 2018 when it was established in response to a rise in bullying against LGBT youth. The Durham Children’s Aid Society spearheaded the events with support from Durham. They were joined by the Durham District School Board, Durham Regional Police Service, and the Durham Children’s Aid Foundation, Pride Durham, North Pride Durham and Toronto Pride.

This collective of organizations had the shared goal to “embrace, engage and empower 2SLGBTQI+ youth, allies and their families.” As such they developed what the Region called, “a safe, inclusive celebration for youth, children and families who are part of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, as well as friends and supporters.”

“This event began as a way to champion acceptance while connecting youth and their families with resources available to support them,” they continued, “As attendance has grown, so has the scale of the celebration.”

The celebration also features a Resource Village of numerous community partners. This year held the largest Village yet with 40 services coming to show attendees the support and programs offered to the LGBT youth.

These resources are of great importance to members of the LGBT community who suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety, rejection, violence, harassment, homelessness and suicide. An LGBT youth is three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight and cisgender peers.

More than 75 per cent of Ontario transgender youth have seriously considered suicide and 45 per cent have attempted it, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Additionally, Statistics Canada has found a 27 per cent increase in reported hate crimes against the LGBT community between 2,646 in 2020 and 3,360 in 2021.

To combat these challenges, Durham Region has held numerous Pride events throughout the month. They’ve raised a Pride flag at the Whitby Headquarters, as have police over their stations and the boards over their schools. They also held Drag Queen Story Times in libraries across the Region which have proven more popular than ever with some 1,000 visitors.

On the importance of these celebrations and event Durham’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Allison Hector-Alexander said, “It is important that Durham Region is a place where diversity is embraced and each one of us is valued and included. When we come together for events, such as Youth Pride Durham, we celebrate our uniqueness and the value that each of us brings to the community. It’s an opportunity to build on the welcoming and inclusive community that we aspire for Durham Region to be.

Durham Children’s Aid Society agreed saying local LGBT kids and parents “need to know that organizations in our communities and the people at those organizations support, respect and care about them, and will stand up and advocate for them.”

 

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