Now that Kind (formerly PTS) and Planned Parenthood Ottawa (PPO) are under one roof, both organizations are hoping to benefit from each other’s strengths and reach into the community.
Carling Miller (Kind’s executive director) and Catherine Macnab (PPO’s executive director) discuss creating a safe space and collectively serving the LGBT community in this edited interview.
Daily Xtra: Kind, formerly PTS, has been such a mainstay in the community. Did anyone express a sense of loss or concern about being part of a new centre?
Carling Miller: I think a lot of that is sort of helped by the fact that a lot of PPO’s programs happen during the day and a lot of things that we do happen in the evening. There’s only a minor crossover in our counselling in terms of it generally happening at the same time, but we have two rooms so that’s helpful.
There is some concern in terms of maybe clients coming for [PPO’s] Options counselling and maybe they’re not as well versed in queer and trans social things and maybe there’s an interaction that’s a little rough between a regular Kind client who’s going to a program and somebody that’s waiting in the waiting area. There are ways to manage that and have those things be avoided completely or to have somebody there to do education on the spot that’s kind of gentle but also reassures the [queer or trans] client that we’ve got your back.
Have you had conversations about safe space guidelines?
Catherine Macnab: We’re having lots of conversations about that. While Kind has really done an amazing job maintaining programs throughout the move, we haven’t been seeing clients [during the move] so we’re really working on how the flow’s going to happen before we bring people in just to make sure we have it right. We’re going to have to work together forever in making it better. It’s going to be a constant learning process for us.
What would you like LGBT people to know about what PPO offers?
Macnab: Planned Parenthood has a long history and all kinds of different reputations out there. We’re not just about unplanned pregnancies and birth control. We’re about sexual and reproductive health, which includes healthy relationships, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and a whole gamut of what fits into sexual and reproductive health. I think being so closely associated with Kind is going to help us with our branding in terms of what it is that we see as our priorities.
PPO’s programming is diverse, but in the back of some people’s minds is the idea that Planned Parenthood is the place for scared teenage girls.
Macnab: Exactly. That is so far from what we are. In fact, the bulk of the people we see are over the age of 19. Of course we do have teens come in and we go to schools with our sex-ed program. We’ve had requests to so some queer-centric sex-ed because youth in schools aren’t hearing the message that belongs to them. We would love to be doing far more of that, but we’re not necessarily the best organization to do it. So if we can work closely with Kind, we can make sure that those needs are being met.