This past Wednesday, May 16, the Toronto District School Board gave out its second annual Director’s GSA Awards. The Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute Queer Straight Alliance received one of three $1000 awards for its work this year against homophobia, transphobia, and gender-stereotypes.

Over the 2011-2012 school year, the Garneau GSA/QSA has introduced a gender neutral, trans-positive washroom, brought queer-themed books into the library, run workshops on healthy relationships and consent, and provided a safe place to talk about LGBT issues. The Director’s GSA Award recognizes a club that has made “a committed effort in helping create a school climate that is safer and more positive for students and staff of all sexual orientations and gender identities.” The award also considers “groups that have new beginnings and have overcome the most adversity” in their establishment. In the four years that I have been attending Marc Garneau, the school has evolved a lot in terms of acceptance of the LQBTQ community. I was talking to an alum a few months ago who remarked that MGCI had been such a hostile environment to him (he’s gay) that he “[couldn’t] believe that a GSA manages to exist at Garneau”. The QSA club is still small, but it is working hard to make the LGBTQ community more visible at Garneau. It will continue to educate staff and students on the importance of establishing a support system of positive spaces.

Club president Ana Qarri and staff advisor Ms. Munro attended the awards ceremony on Wednesday evening. The QSA is still thinking of what to do with the money – more books for the library? An endowment fund to ensure the continuance of the club in future years? A field trip to the Bahahmas?

If you have any ideas, or are interested in seeing how the club functions, the QSA meets every Friday at lunch in room 339.