May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, also known as IDAHOT. IDAHOT was started in 2005 and is organized by a Paris-based committee led by French academic and activist Louis-Georges Tin. May 17 was chosen in commemoration of May 17, 1990, the date that homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization.
One thing that is unique about IDAHOT is that it addresses homophobia and transphobia on an international level. I think sometimes when we are working to combat homophobia in our own community, city, province and country it is hard to see how that fits within an international context. IDAHOT brings attention to issues of homophobia and transphobia globally by coordinating events around the world on May 17. ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, has more information on their website about LGBTQ issues internationally including an interactive map about laws in different countries.
IDAHOT’s theme this year is “Combating Homophobia In Education and Through Education”. The theme of combating homophobia through education clearly relates to the work that T.E.A.C.H. does through our anti-homophobia education workshops in schools, community centres and other settings. The idea of combating homophobia in education is also relevant to T.E.A.C.H. T.E.A.C.H. regularly provides workshops for educators in which youth volunteer facilitators have the chance to educate teachers about homophobia and transphobia and to speak with them about their experiences. The opportunity for knowledge to flow in this direction, from youth to educators, rather than the other way around, is rare and important. I think that speaking directly with teachers and school administrators who shape education is a key part of combating homophobia in education.
This year for IDAHOT T.E.A.C.H. attended a breakfast event put on by Egale Canada and Toronto PFLAG. There were many inspiring speakers, including Ontario Minister of Education Laurel Broten, Executive Director of Egale Canada Helen Kennedy, President of Toronto PFLAG Irene Miller, and MPP Cheri DiNovo. Egale Canada also screened their new film Courage in The Face of Hate, a moving documentary about experiences of homophobia faced by LGBTQ people across Canada. Check out the preview and find more info about the film here.
P.S. Next on the agenda today for T.E.A.C.H. is a flag raising at City Hall….if you’re in or around Toronto you should come by: