Public toilet
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Proof that it does get better

BY ROB SALERNO – In the wake of another tragic gay teen suicide, this time in Ottawa, I could draw your attention to a prime example of the type of irrational hate that led Jamie Hubley to write “It’s so hard, I’m sorry, I can’t take it anymore,” before taking his own life Oct 14, but instead I’d like to point out some positive stories coming from across Canada today to remind readers that it is indeed getting better.

Not too far from Ottawa, the Quebec government has announced that it will spend $7 million to fight anti-gay bullying and discrimination. The money will be available to community groups that provide services and education for and about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people to eliminate discrimination and harassment in schools and businesses. While Quebec is already one of the most progressive parts of Canada, it’s good to see a government taking action to ensure that all people are treated fairly and with dignity.

And CTV reports that more universities in all parts of the country are beginning to install gender-neutral washrooms, which help trans people avoid the stigma or embarrassment of having to choose one gender or the other when using a public washroom. What’s really refreshing is how calm and rational everyone is sounding on this issue. Since all that’s usually involved is to change a sign on existing one-person-accessible bathrooms from “male” and “female” to “unisex” or simply “washroom,” it’s a staggeringly simple solution. Even non-trans disabled students gain access to 100 percent more washrooms!

Even the City of Kamloops, BC, is beginning to install gender-neutral washrooms in its facilities, although that move appears to be motivated more by parents’ and caregivers’ desire to bring their children into washrooms. But even that points to the importance of and possible opportunities for networking with other stakeholders who have common interests.

Finally, this morning brought the announcement that the controversy-baiting reality show pitch/Jersey Shore rip-off The Lake Shore, which put a bunch of 20-something ethnic stereotypes (including a “Lebanese” who pulled double-duty as the gay mascot) into a house together on Toronto’s waterfront to do the things that 20-somethings do on reality shows but with added racism and debatable moralizing, has halted production after it failed to find a buyer anywhere. 

Since the show received worldwide media exposure/condemnation when its trailer was launched last year (including The Onion’s AV Club welcoming Canada to America’s “mutual gutter"), it’s genuinely surprising that not even a low-rent third-tier cable company in any country was willing to be associated with it, but let’s just take this as an example of people’s better angels making them resist the siren song of the lowest common denominator.

Bizarrely, if you go to The Lake Shore’s old YouTube trailer page, there’s a notice that the trailer’s been removed due to a copyright claim by the CBC. But webisodes and audition videos are still available. Here’s the Lebanese claiming to be a designer for Lady Gaga and Missy Elliott:

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