The Canadian Association for Equality is extremely hurt and disappointed to announce that Pride Toronto has revoked our permit to walk in the Pride Parade this Sunday.
Here’s all we were told:
It has come to our attention that the work of your organization may contravene the spirit of the mission, vision, and values of Pride Toronto and WorldPride. For this reason, please be advised that your permit to march in the WorldPride Parade on Sunday June 29th has been cancelled. We regret that this information has come so close to the parade day.
This was sent to us 4 days before the parade, even though we had paid for our registration months ago and had walked without incident last year. CAFE values equality, diversity and inclusion. Now Pride is telling us we are not welcome, violating these values we thought we shared.
CAFE hoped to resolve the situation amicably. We sent Pride an Official Response and provided all of you with contact information for Pride, encouraging supporters to send letters. Some of your amazing letters are here
This resulted in a meeting with Kevin Beaulieu, Pride’s Executive Director. Following that meeting, CAFE sent a thorough response to Mr. Beaulieu. Pride dismissed what we had to say and refused to reconsider their position.
CAFE has released the following media advisory “Controversial “Men’s Issues” Organization Ejected From Pride Parade”
CAFE is committed to contributing to Pride. We will not miss the opportunity to show that the same values unite Pride and the new movement for men’s issues awareness. So please join CAFE to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion at the CAFE Pride Party Saturday, June 28 at 8PM at the Artful Dodger Pub (Back Patio) at 10 Isabella Street in the Church-Wellesley Village! We will also be visible as a group at the Pride Parade on Sunday.
Please send your RSVP or your interest in assisting at either event to email@example.com
CAFE’s Official Response
Hi Jamie:We are deeply hurt and troubled by your revocation of the permit for the Canadian Association for Equality to participate in the Pride parade this Sunday. I am writing you as the LGBT Committee Chair for CAFE and a trans-woman who is baffled by the rationale behind this seemingly rash decision days before the event.
I’d like to respectfully request an explanation for the manner in which CAFE contravenes the mission, vision and values of Pride, so that we can reflect upon how to improve our organization if that is required. We are a positive, diverse and inclusive organization that participated respectfully in Pride last year and which was looking forward to celebrating Sunday’s important event.
Pride values include the non-judgemental acceptance of the diversity of others. And as a trans-woman, and a person in a wheelchair it troubles me greatly that Pride would now prove to be my oppressor.
I urge you to reconsider your decision.
I have personally been involved with CAFE for a considerable amount of time, and know that I was welcomed into it’s ranks with no judgement, and that several other folks who are under the LGBT umbrella are also members. The very fact that CAFE has an active LGBT Committee alone is proof of this.
There are some misunderstandings about my organization. CAFE is not an anti-feminist organization nor a men’s rights association. CAFE is a registered educational charity concerned with issues facing boys, men and families (just like a number of other groups walking in Pride), and is working with social service agencies in Toronto to open the Canadian Centre for Men and Families, a place for counselling, mentorship and peer support related to suicide prevention, anger management, family communication and conflict resolution.
I notice you’ve green lit for participation in Pride 2014 the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) and Israeli Apartheid. These groups are entitled to their perspective, but they are undeniably provocative and political. We find it incredible that our organization should be singled out despite our mandate committing us to equality for all Canadians.
We are very disappointed that we haven’t been given any notice of your concerns or any opportunity to address them. We feel this is not consistent with the open minded, inclusive and diverse movement which we know you represent. Therefore we would formally request a meeting with yourself and other members of the Pride executive or Board as soon as possible so that we can get a deep understanding of your concerns and be given a chance to respond. We are confident we can resolve this misunderstanding to everyone’s satisfaction.
Pride had several weeks to review our application but revoked our permit only four days before the event, after thousands of dollars were spent by our organization to prepare our contingent. We believe this should entitle us at the very least to a conversation that might lead to an amicable solution and certainly couldn’t hurt.
Both Christin Milloy and Susan Gapka know me, and that I have been openly living as trans for years. While I do not see eye to eye with them on certain issues, I am certain that they can assure you that I have been an advocate for Trans-folk for a long time and would not be working with an organization that wasn’t committed to the mission, vision and values of Pride.
Genna (wheelchair) Ross
From Eleanor Levine:
I am a proud member of CAFE and also a member of the Advisory Board.
I am on Faculty at the University of Toronto, The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. I work with graduate students as Faculty-Field Liaison. This past year I supervised 21 students, 21 Host supervisors and 3 Field Educators. I will continue this work in the year 2014 – 2015. I have also worked in the Departments of Psychiatry at Stanford University in Palo Alto and in Toronto at the UHN – Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital. I worked in Psychiatry, in-patient and out-patient in The Women’s Clinic. I am very experienced in working with women with an enormous array of problems. My current work is at The University of Toronto and I have a private practice.
I feel a deep commitment to CAFE for its excellent work in helping men and boys with an array of problems. I am aware of the suicide rates of young men and of the drop-out rate from school, including University. I am aware that there is a dearth of agencies to help boys, men and fathers. CAFE sponsors educational seminars of a very high caliber. Academic leaders speak at these meetings. They also do research and their work is published in noted peer-reviewed journals.
CAFE is trying to help men. This group is an equal-opportunity group. Women are respected and never disparaged. This dedicated group is about human rights for all. And justice for all.
I am 74 years old. Doing academic work and therapy. I have a husband, 3 married sons and 7 grandchildren. I live a rich life and I have a lot of experience both person and professional in understanding people, both men and women. I cannot stress enough to you how dedicated CAFE Directors, Advisors and Members are to helping people, all people to have a loving and peaceful life. You need to know that that includes acceptance of and respect for genders and sexual orientation.
Please reconsider your current decision. CAFE is an honorable group which is doing excellent work for all women and men
Eleanor Levine, BA, MSW, RSW
From Alan Fournier:
I am a gay man and a member of CAFE. There are many of us, both male and female, in the LGBT community that are proud of our involvement in men’s issues. Pride Toronto is on the wrong side of history on this one. If you want to create a deep schism within the LGBT community, your off to a good start. Please make no mistake, this will explode in your faces
From Ryan Dinsmore
I find your decision to revoke the Canadian Association for Equality’s (CAFE) permit to participate in the Toronto Pride parade troubling.
I am writing you as a member of the executive committee of CAFE.
As a person who identifies with a diverse LGBT and aboriginal community, I am confused by your rationale to revoke CAFE’s permit. I have found CAFE to be nothing but a diverse and inclusive organization and feel that further explanation is needed to demonstrate how CAFE contravenes “the spirit of the mission, vision and values of Pride Toronto and WorldPride.”
CAFE is a registered charity dedicated to addressing issues facing boys, men and families, regardless of ethnicity or sexual orientation. CAFE’s message is inclusive and the diversity of CAFE’s membership base speaks to the organization’s non-judgmental openness to all people.
I am a psychotherapist in Toronto and have been working with CAFE to establish the Canadian Centre for Men and Families, an inclusive centre dedicated to counselling, suicide prevention, anger management, family issues and peaceful conflict resolution. I have seen CAFE validated and embraced by a number of social service agencies in Toronto, as well as a diverse population of different cultures, ethnicities, genders, classes and ages.
In my personal experience with CAFE, I have found that the organization embodies many of Pride Toronto’s values.
In the spirit of openness and respect, I feel we would all benefit from a greater explanation of Pride Toronto’s decision to revoke CAFE’s permit to participate in Pride. I also respectfully ask Pride Toronto to reconsider it’s decision.
Thank you for your time,
Ryan Dinsmore, M.Ed., CCC
From Mike Murphy
I find it ironic PRIDE Toronto is revoking the permit of a charitable organisation, focused on equality for all, particularly the role of men, boys, and families, while allowing those who have a visceral hate for Israel to participate in the parade.
The message you are sending is one of incoherence and intolerance yet you are demanding tolerance from others.
I believe you need to reconsider this ill thought out decision no doubt instigated by some very spiteful people with the wrong information about CAFE. Is PRIDE now following the example that Rob Ford shows toward it? That is not a rhetorical question.
From Charles-A. R.
This is email is to address my deepest concerns to the Pride Toronto organization.
Are gay people turning their back on citizens fighting a similar struggle : having their rights recognized as fathers and men in our society, the same way gay and queer people have struggled (still are) for their own rights….?
Or would it be because these people are heterosexual???
Very inclusive attitude….
Maybe remember your own roots and struggles.
My second question is : how does this group contravene the mission of the pride movement?
Charles-A. R., Toronto
CAFE’s Full Email to Kevin Beaulieu, Pride Executive Director
1. CAFE was planning to incorporate the following material in our contingent:
– coloured t-shirts in all the colours of the pride flag rainbow, with the CAFE name/logo and website (please see the attached photos). We were planning to have about 15-20 participants wearing the different colour shirts so that the contingent as a group represented the rainbow
– a banner would be held with the organization name/logo and website
– we would wear buttons/stickers featuring various imagery, which I have attached. These buttons are all gender neutral with the exception of Button7 and Button8, one of which is a female symbol and the other a male symbol. The idea with those would be for the same person to wear them both
2. Mandate: The mandate as provided on our website and communication materials opens with our basic values:
“The Canadian Association for Equality is committed to achieving equality for all Canadians, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family status, race, ethnicity, creed, age or disability. In particular, we are interested in gender equality, that is on achieving equality for all men, women, girls and boys.”
We then explain that while supporting all efforts at gender equality, our current focus is on the status, health and well-being of boys and men because of the decision that was reached that with limited resources we wanted to make a unique contribution in an area where it was felt that attention, investment and support for educational and social programs was underdeveloped compared to the seriousness of the issues and under-explored compared to other important areas of social improvement. I want to be clear that this is in no way to detract from the efforts of women’s rights and LGBT rights organizations. We do not see equality as a zero sum game and we aim to work collaboratively with those who may have different priorities.
You asked for us to demonstrate the sincerity of that mandate. That is a fair question. I believe the best answer is to point to the diversity of our organizational membership, with women, members of the LGBT community and folks of very diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, including First Nations and Metis people, involved at every level of our organization. You have seen some evidence of this just with emails sent to your office in the last day (at least based on the copies I’ve seen).This would not be possible if we were in fact hiding an angry misogynist or homophobic agenda, which would become quickly apparent to these individuals. I would encourage you to ask these folks why they are working with CAFE.
I want to elaborate on the matter of female involvement in CAFE. Our female spokespeople include Heidi Nabert who helps divorced fathers reconnect with their children and Eleanor Levine who is a member of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at U of T and worked in psychiatry in The Women’s Clinic. Several of the campus-based men’s issues awareness societies with which we have sponsored events have been led by female students. This includes Veronica Kay who founded the Guelph Men’s Issues Awareness Society and is an active member of CAFE’s Research committee due to her interest in men’s mental health and suicide prevention. This includes two young women who attempted to co-found (along with a male student) a men’s issues group at Ryerson University.
CAFE also runs an LGBT Committee, chaired by Genna Ross, a long-time advocate for transgender rights and the rights of the disabled.
3. Our activities:
There are credible precedents for the work that we do with respect to our three priority areas 1. boys’ education, 2. men’s health and 3. fathers and families. Our work on the education of boys is consistent with efforts currently underway in the Ministry of Education and the TDSB in response to challenges facing boys in our schools. Our work with fathers and men’s health is mirrored by new services being offered in response to the acknowledged lack of adequate mental health services for men, in particular fathers (consider this recent story in the Globe and Mail:
“When it comes to mental health, men – particularly young fathers – have been largely overlooked, with most of the treatment and services focused on women and new mothers.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/website-to-help-hesistant-dads-tackle-mental-health-woes/article19147646/)
CAFE is planning to open the Canadian Centre for Men and Families to provide a broad range of services like suicide prevention, anger management, family communication and conflict resolution. A similar space has long existed in Ottawa (The Men’s Project) and has been supported or funded over the years by the YMCA and various levels of government. Our work has credible precedent and is in no way a threat to other important social movements.
4. Equality Day
I wanted to touch briefly on some of the misunderstandings surrounding Equality Day. The fact is the venue Artscape Gibralter Point, the bands and the sponsors all had knowledge that CAFE was sponsoring the event and knew that CAFE was an educational men’s issues organization. Many of the bands and the administrator at Artscape had personal connections or friendships with one of CAFE’s Board members who was up front on the nature of the organization in which he belonged. There was absolutely nothing hidden. But once Artscape, the bands and the sponsors became the target of intense threats from a few individuals with a misunderstanding of our organization it become difficult for some to maintain their connection to Equality Day. It should be noted though that out of a couple dozen bands participating only one withdrew. Artscape cited a “political policy” that required their venue to not host political events, but they waited until 3 days before our concert to invoke this policy, and in fact Artscape has hosted a variety of political events over the years including an NDP rally. CAFE decided not to respond with frustration, but to turn this disappointment into a public engagement opportunity and went forward with Equality Day at Yonge and Dundas. I would encourage you to watch this video of CAFE volunteers having a great time out at Equality Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHJIRCAgIvU
5. Charity application
Let me touch on the matter of the charity application. The article that appeared in NOW magazine picked on a few elements of an extensive application process, completely taking out the context, in order to present a story that fit into a preconceived set of assumptions.
The article suggests an attempt to hide our men’s issues focus. But the very beginning of the application states clearly: “one key area of focus will be on the status, health and well-being of boys and men.” When we are explaining some of our activities we later state:
“We might for example meet with members of the provincial Ministries of Education to encourage ministry officials to take more seriously the increasing levels of boys’ high school drop-out rates and to suggest ways in which the education of boys could be improved. We might also meet with members of the provincial Ministries of Health to discuss the need for more attention on programs to educate men on the need to seek medical help when needed by breaking out of traditional gender roles that result in men failing to adequately take care of their healthcare needs.”
We also provided the Charities Directorate with a link to our youtube channel so they could go through videos of all our public events. In other words we were clear with the Charities Directorate as to the nature of our organization and its activities. In any case, the Directorate performed their own additional research beyond what was in our application.
The charity application asked for both current and proposed future programs. We did indeed include names of a number of feminist and gay rights organizations (and several other organizations not mentioned) in our description of proposed future activities. It is entirely typical in the application process to include proposed groups for future collaboration and usually does not result in any controversy. The fact is we are genuinely committed to organizing collaborative programs, some of which we’ve already started on. It is unfortunate if some of these groups opt not to work with us, but we have every intention of encouraging them to do so.
As to Professor Sarita Srivastava, who is cited as a feminist scholar from Queen’s University, she did respond favourably to an invite to participate in a future program with CAFE, which is why we included her as a potential future guest speaker in our application, but she did not respond to follow up correspondence which was sent after the application was submitted and so the event unfortunately never materialized.
More significant was what was not included in the NOW article. The charity application was actually a three step process, but Mr. Spurr only included a copy of and excerpts from the documentation pertaining to the first step. The charity directorate conducted a rigorous review process after receiving our first set of documents, asking us on two separate occasions for further supporting documentation to prove we had good research methodology and were educational rather than ideological in nature (the latter being a standard part of the charity application review). NOW did not publish the additional documents related to these follow up steps in their article. These documents demonstrate the level of rigour that went into the charity directorate’s consideration of our application and might serve as evidence that an educational men’s issues organization is in the public interest (the test for charity status).
I can send you our correspondence with the Charities Directorate related to these additional two steps if you would like. As part of the second step of documentation, we provided the charity directorate with the following, which I have attached to this email:
– a fact sheet pertaining to fatherhood in Canada (a good example of the kind of research CAFE does)
– a handout from Sheena’s Place, an eating disorder nonprofit, pertaining to a men’s group pilot project on which CAFE was invited to offer consultation and support
– excerpts from a presentation by one of our key advisors and guest speakers, former teacher and principal Dr. James Robert Brown, based on his book: “Rescuing our underachieving sons”
In the third and final round of correspondence we responded to specific requests from the Charity Directorate. They asked us for all the references from the “Rescuing our Under Achieving Sons” presentation (we provided the full bibliography from the book) and copies of The New Male Studies, a peer reviewed academic inderdisciplinary journal (several of our advisors are on the editorial board), to which we sent them this link http://www.newmalestudies.com/
I do apologize for the length of my response on this matter, but there really is an entire side to this story that NOW magazine decided not to tell. I am happy to respond to concerns regarding our charity application, but I do think we need to keep in mind that Mr. Spurr is not a charity directorate investigations official nor qualified to make an objective assessment as to the merits of our application. If the charity directorate has concerns I am sure they will conduct an investigation, but I do not believe Pride should be drawing any conclusions from a single article that is seriously incomplete and does not represent anything close to due process.
6. Other organizations
CAFE has a strict policy of non-affiliation with other organizations and maintains neutrality on matters of political, religious and ideological commitment. Various groups may comment in support or opposition to our programs, including both feminist and men’s rights associations, but such comments in no way reflect CAFE association or affiliation with any of these groups, nor do we approve, endorse, or coordinate those activities. CAFE members have appeared in non-official capacities at many events discussing gender, including programs organized by men’s issues groups, but also programs organized by feminist groups. Our spokesperson and advisor Heidi Nabert, for example, was invited and participated in a panel event “Modern Feminism and You” organized by the ten year old women’s rights group Women Out Loud at the University of Toronto.
Please reconsider your decision to revoke our permit to walk in Pride. Please let us follow the precedent set when we walked last year. There was no trouble created by our participation whatsoever even though the organization was already well known. Allow me to suggest that following Pride 2014 there might be a proper formal procedure implemented where your organization can decide whether to accept us in future years. Anyone with concerns can be heard during this process, and we would be happy to respond to any and all issues raised.
Pride has had almost 2 months to consider CAFE’s application and at this point we have spent a couple thousand dollars on Pride specific material. To be honest, we do not believe we are being treated fairly. Pride has worked hard to develop a solid procedure (the Dispute Resolution Process) to guarantee consistent and non-arbitrary handling of these situations. According to that procedure’s due process requirements, groups who receive complaints are given a chance to respond, and the dispute resolution process is to be completed by June 21st. If the process is not complete by that date the group is allowed to walk in the parade. I worry that Pride may be violating the spirit if not the letter of its own procedures in the way it has handled the CAFE matter.
But more important than process, CAFE shares the values of Pride: inclusion, diversity and equality. We may be provocative, but not more so than other groups you have green lit, including Queers against Israeli Apartheid and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association. OECTA, whose inclusion in Pride I applaud, especially after my own work to support GSAs in Catholic schools, is nevertheless part of a Catholic system that is not always aligned with the values of Pride. I find it troubling that CAFE is singled out for exceptional treatment.
On a personal note, I am a friend and ally of Pride. I’ve walked in Pride for half a decade under different organizational banners. I participate in weekly debates on mainstream radio and TV arguing against socially conservative oftentimes bigoted and homophobic people like Charles McVety and Joe Boot, and standing up strongly for sexual education, GSAs, and gay rights. Many of my colleagues in CAFE – men and women – share this deep passion for the LGBT movement and also believe men’s issues need attention.
Let me just add in conclusion that CAFE is committed to doing whatever we need to to work positively with Pride, and we are happy to discuss statements or commitments you’d like us to make or other forms of action we can take to signal our desire to fit in to Pride and help contribute to this important event. We are also very willing to continue meeting with you or your colleagues, and to invite members of our Board or Advisors to future meetings.
Thanks again Kevin for your reasonableness, patience and sincere commitment to doing what is right. It is refreshing and appreciated.
Main Number: 416-927-7433
Full Contact information: http://www.worldpridetoronto.com/about/contact