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Keystone Child, Youth and Family Services, along with several Grey Bruce partners, released the following statement November 21 concerning the targeted violence this past weekend in Colorado.

Five people are dead and 25 are injured after a gunman opened fire inside Club Q, a gay club in Colorado Springs Saturday night. A suspect has been arrested and faces murder and hate crime charges.

The statement reads as follows:

Keystone Child, Youth and Family Services along with our partners Bruce Grey Child and Family Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, Pflag, M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre and Make it Wright strongly condemn the most recent mass shooting targeting a gay bar in the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado. This horrific incident is but one of many deadly acts against the Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual +/- community.

All forms of violence towards 2SLGBTQQIAP+/- are increasing in frequency and severity. Recently, the United Nations and other human rights organizations have documented a dramatic increase in the number of physical and psychological acts of violence focused on 2SLGBTQQIAP+/- people that includes murder, physical and sexual assault, kidnapping and torture.

Around the world there are 76 countries that continue to preserve laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relationships between adults. Those countries regularly use arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and false prosecutions to intimidate, discriminate and terrorize 2SLGBTQQIAP+/- people. Five countries continue to have the death penalty for anyone convicted of being bisexual or gay.

As a network of caring organizations, our collective focus is to combat the abuse, violence, ill treatment and discrimination experienced by so many people. We know that 2SLGBTQQIAP+/- adolescents are almost five times more likely to have experienced suicidal ideation than their counterparts who identify as straight with an attempted suicide rate two times higher.

Transgender women are at particular risk of violence who are experiencing a murder rate that is two and a half times greater than non-trans people. This statistic being particularly poignant as observed Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, 2022, a day that honours the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

When we witness acts of violence such as the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, it reminds us that our friends and family who are 2SLGBTQQIAP+/- are simply not safe, often in the very places created to be safe spaces.

As partners, we will continue our work in building welcoming, supportive and safe spaces for 2SLGBTQQIAP+/- youth, adolescents and adults. We will further our efforts to educate and inform, to build networks and services, to expand training on diversity and inclusion while opening up our services as spaces to anyone who feels they are not safe as a result of their sexuality or gender identification.

Collectively, as not-for-profit, community serving organizations, we stand together and commit to actions that support inclusion and safety for our 2SLGBTQQIAP+/- community in Grey and Bruce counties.

In partnership,

David Willis, Executive Director, Keystone Child, Youth & Family Services
Clark MacFarlane, Chief Executive Office, Canadian Mental Health Association Grey Bruce
Julie Lipsett, Executive Director, Bruce Grey Child & Family Services
Karen Houle, Program Coordinator, M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre's Building Gender Diverse Communities Program
Joan Beecroft, Chapter Lead Pflag Canada Owen Sound
Spencer Wright, Founder, Make It Wright

To anyone who has experienced or witnessed hate or violence as a result of sexual orientation or identity, we are here for you and encourage you to reach out to one of the organizations included below.

Keystone Child, Youth & Family Services 519-371-4773, Toll Free: 1-800-567-2384, www.keystonebrucegrey.org

Canadian Mental Health Association Grey Bruce, 519-371-3642, Toll Free: 1-888-451-CMHA, greybruce.cmha.ca

Bruce Grey Child & Family Services, 519-371-4453, Toll Free: 1-855-322-4453, www.bgcfs.ca

Pflag Canada, 1-888-530-6777 ext. 570, pflagcanada.ca, facebook.com/PFLAGCanadaOwenSound

M'Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre, Building Gender Diverse Communities Program, 519-371-1147, mwikwedong.com

Grey Bruce Pride, facebook.com/GreyBrucePride

Make It Wright, www.makeitwright.ca

LGBT Youth Line, 1-800-268-9688, www.youthline.ca

Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868, kidshelpphone.ca