Inclusion Media release

PSA: July 18: Safer spaces in Pugwash

For details, see the FaceBook event here

Our cultural values and beliefs are important to us and for some, indicate what is common, natural or moral in regard to sexual activities, behaviours and identities. Along with many of you, the Sexual Health Centre of Cumberland County is deeply concerned that our county is the intended location for a religious gathering that will educate attendees, including youth, that homosexuality is a sin.

LGBT+ organizations from across the province have done an excellent job of emphasizing the damaging impacts associated with this belief as supported by research and importantly, by youth themselves. These impacts include increased stigma, depression, suicidal thoughts and acts.

Understandably, news of the event has created a great deal of anger and distress. Here at home and across our province, many LGBT+ youth struggle in isolation as a result of damaging beliefs that stigmatize homosexuality.

The Sexual Health Centre continues to experience an increase in the number of requests from partners for resources and information on how to be an ally and create safer spaces in our shared community. There is a need for us to highlight resources in the county, promote community inclusion, and provide education to break the isolation that so many LGBT+ youth in our county continue to experience. These resources include allied ministries across our county who make a positive difference in the lives of so many LGBT+ youth in our county by accepting and including youth, as they are.

This is a matter of health, safety and yes, even prayer. Our sexuality is a unique combination of biological, social, cultural, and psychological factors that interact in complex ways. Our faith and spirituality are an important part of our sexual health and wellbeing and contribute greatly to the development of youth, who are at the centre of this issue. A compassionate response rooted in education is needed.

We cannot uninvite people’s values to our community. The group in question has a legal right to assemble and to hold their event. Aggressive tactics and forceful responses in opposition to the event will not help us achieve the community awareness and understanding that is desperately needed across our county, and the province.

To meet our goal of creating and fostering safer spaces, the Sexual Health Centre and partners recently met with the commissionaires of the Village of Pugwash to discuss recent events and opportunities for community awareness. It is essential that LGBT+ youth and their families know where to go for support and that they are valued in our community.

According to the commissionaires, “The Village prides itself on being an inclusive place and we welcome any opportunity to do so. If there is someone hurting or suffering in this community it hurts us too. We want Pugwash to be home to everyone.”

So do we.

The Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County and the Village of Pugwash, with the support of community partners and allies, are actively planning a Safer Spaces in Pugwash community wide education event on Wednesday July 18th from 6pm to 8pm in Cyrus Eaton Park. We hope you can join us.

This free, two (2) hour outdoor session will present highlights of the recently updated Safer Spaces training session, which is delivered to service providers by the Sexual Health Centre and partners across the county.

We are grateful to the many community members and volunteers who have reached out to us in recent days as we plan this event, which we are organizing on very short notice. We are asking for the support and help of friends and partners in the following ways:

Let people know. Liking our event page, sharing our posts and emails, and letting folks know about the event is a great start. Please tell folks to bring bug spray and blankets, as the location is a seaside park. We are securing a facility now in the event of rain.

Help get folks to the event. Our county is a big one and transportation is an issue for many, especially for low income folks. Offering folks rides and car-pooling will be helpful.

Share supports and resources in your community. We have included some for you below.

This issue is moving quickly, and we have very little time. If you are an ally or would like to learn how to become an ally, this event is for you.

In solidarity,
Rene Ross
Executive Director and Sexual Health Educator
On behalf of the Board of Directors,
The Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County

(902) 667-7500

For additional information and support please see the following resources:

The Youth Project
Faith and Spirituality Resources

Faith & Spirituality Resources

Human Rights Campaign
Policy and Position Statements on Conversion Therapy

Human Rights Campaign
Just As They Are
(This resource will help parents recognize when and how the practice of conversion therapy is promoted, provides information about the dangers of the practice, and offers guidance to parents regarding practices that promote their child’s health and well-being).