Hockey Canada embraces gender identity inclusion

TORONTO, Sept. 15, 2014 /CNW/ - Jesse Thompson can't wait until hockey season starts again, facing only his on-ice opponents.  Hockey Canada has agreed to make changes to protect young players in Ontario from discrimination and harassment based on a player's transgender status.  These changes resolve a human rights application Jesse filed after facing difficulties at his local arena.

Hockey Canada will:

  • Provide training to all its Ontario-based trainers and coaches on gender identity and gender expression, including training on discrimination and harassment
  • Amend its Ontario Co-Ed Dressing Room Policy, which will be publicly posted on the websites of the Ontario branches of Hockey Canada, to include that:
    • A player has a right to use a dressing room that corresponds with the player's self-identified gender identity;
    • A player shall be addressed by the player's preferred name and referred to by pronouns corresponding to the player's self-identified gender identity; and
    • A player is entitled to privacy and confidentiality with respect to the player's trans status
  • Provide information about the amended policy to staff, volunteers, parents/guardians and players in Ontario.

"I was scared, but I didn't want to give up the game I love or the person I am.  I just want to be that guy who's really good at hockey and hope my actions mean other kids don't go through the same pain," said Jesse Thompson.

After learning about the changes, Patrick Burke of You Can Play commented "We are grateful to Hockey Canada for stepping up to the plate on these issues, and look forward to working with everyone to put these plans into action.  All of us at You Can Play are thrilled for and awed by Jesse.  His courage will allow transgender hockey players to feel welcome and supported in their locker rooms. Hockey is a game meant for everyone, and we are excited for the day when all LGBT athletes feel secure in their ability to live their lives openly," continued Burke. 

"Hockey Canada's decision to embrace a new era of inclusivity sends a strong message - not only in the sports world but throughout communities small and large across Canada," said Brenda Culbert, Jesse's co-counsel with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.  "We are also grateful to You Can Play for their leadership role in this struggle," continued Culbert.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission intervened in the human rights application and Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall saluted the changes as "another great milestone in our search for an inclusive society rooted in respect for our diverse lives and experiences."

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre provides legal assistance to people in communities across Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission works to promote, protect and advance human rights through research, education, targeted legal action and policy development. 

SOURCE: Human Rights Legal Support Centre

For further information:

For further information or to arrange interviews: 

Jennifer Ramsay, Human Rights Legal Support Centre (416) 597-4958 or mobile: (416) 522-5931

Afroze Edwards, Ontario Human Rights Commission (416) 314-4528

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