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City of Toronto hands out Pride Awards

The City of Toronto recently named the winners of its annual Pride Award for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Trans-sexual Two-Spirited Issues.

The award was established in 2003 to mark the 30th anniversary of city council’s decision to add sexual orientation to the city’s human rights policy.

The 2007 winners are Rupert Raj, Deb Parent and Central Toronto Youth Services.

According to the city the award “honours individuals and/or organizations that have made or are making a significant or ongoing contribution to the well-being and advancement of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and two-spirited community in Toronto.”

From 1971 to 1990 Raj provided peer education, counselling and advocacy for trans communities across Canada and in the United States. He currently works at the Sherbourne Health Centre as a counsellor and therapist in the LGBT Program with a special focus on trans issues. He is also a member of the Trans Health Lobby Group which is advocating for sex reassignment surgery to be relisted under OHIP and for trans to be added to the Ontario Human Rights Code. He will also be setting up a trans collection at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Parent was on staff at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre beginning in the late ’70s. She has also taught self-defence classes for years and helped to organize Take Back the Night marches. She also established the Lesbian Speakers Bureau. She is currently the marketing director for Rainbow High Vacations.

Central Toronto Youth Services (CTYS) founded the Sexual Orientation and Youth Program in 1983, the first program in Ontario to provide counselling, groups, research and community education for queer youth. Currently CTYS runs the Pride and Prejudice Program for queer and trans youth through individual and group counselling, research and community development. Since the early ’90s it has produced several research-based books about queer youth. It will also be putting out a resource guide, Families in TRANSition, for parents and families of trans youth.