‘Tragic and shocking’: OUTSaskatoon layoffs shrinks LGBTQ2 safe spaces


A pillar for Saskatoon’s LGBTQ2 community just got a bit smaller. OUTSaskatoon announced Wednesday that nine people were laid off from the organization, and the executive director resigned.“That’s tragic and shocking,” said Amy-Jo Setka, a resident who has used OUTSaskatoon’s services, and was also once a volunteer for them.Setka worried for the youth groups and surrounding rural communities, noting that OUTSaskatoon’s services extended beyond the city limits.“Pressures in the community are getting worse,” Setka added, noting that things like the protests at the drag story time at the Wonderhub are causing unnecessary stress. Story continues below advertisement They said those services are some of the only resources for the LGBTQ2 community in Saskatchewan, and that they offer a safe space for those community members and anyone in the Riversdale area. 2:27 Drag story time sparks protest outside Kelowna Library A release from OUTSaskatoon said the organization saw an increase in demand during the pandemic, but the funding has not been able to keep up with their growth.“We have taken these steps which are necessary for OUTSaskatoon to be able to continue serving the community,” said OUTSaskatoon Board Chair Melody Wood.“We deeply regret the need for this action as we value the contribution of all of our employees.” Trending Now Story continues below advertisement The organization says it will continue to work on its programs and create a safe space for LGBTQ2 community members.“We ask the community for their support and understanding as we navigate through these challenging times and that this news not take away from the mission and the values of what OUTSaskatoon stands for,” Wood said.The organization began in 1991 as Gay and Lesbian Health Services, changed its name to the Avenue Community Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity in 2005, and became OUTSaskatoon in 2015.Services from the organization include counselling, peer support groups, a sexual health clinic and PrEP clinic in collaboration with Saskatoon Sexual Health, a trans care fund and Pride Home.Kseniah Pidskalny is the University of Saskatchewan Student Union Pride Centre coordinator on campus said the news of OUTSaskatoon’s layoffs is heartbreaking.“OUTSaskatoon is one of the most prevalent in not only Saskatoon, but the greater Saskatchewan area in terms of resources, supports and services that they offer,” Pidskalny said.They said the U of S student centre tries to offer services where they can, but they have to lean on other organizations like OUTSaskatoon for things they can’t deliver. Story continues below advertisement “Without that, there’s definitely going to be a little bit of a gap for the resources that we can offer on campus as well, and anybody that reaches out to us.”Pidskalny listed some other services available for people in the LGBTQ2 community, including Justice Trans and Trans Sask.She stressed the importance of having a space like OUTSaskatoon, noting some people don’t have a place to turn to, and a lot of work needs to be done in Saskatchewan in terms of trans supports.“We connect with one another, we want a space where we can truly support one another. And they’re out there, but we definitely feel this loss.”Global News has reached out to OUTSaskatoon for comment. 1:44 Calgary sees more protests against LGBTQ2+ community &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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