A special guest speaker impressed upon the Battlefords business community how important it was to offer a welcoming environment to both LGBTQ employees and consumers.
Battlefords-born Amanda Guthrie, education coordinator for OUTSaskatoon, was the guest speaker at a Battlefords Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Guthrie spoke about how LGBTQ people suffer in non-inclusive environments, and how there is an economic benefit when a business creates a diverse and welcoming workplace.
“There are LGBT people out there who need to buy products, who need to access services. They should feel safe when doing so. Any minority should be embraced just the same as any other person going to a local business or organization. There's definitely an economic gain and an employee gain to being LGBT inclusive,” she said.
Having grown up in the Battlefords and since moved to Saskatoon, Guthrie said she’s seen some development in the community. She said the Battlefords and Area Gender and Sexuality Alliance starting over the summer was a huge sign of that progress.
She said the group will be a great service for the people of the Battlefords, and the GSA marching in the Territorial Days Parade showed the hundreds of people watching that social progress can be made in the community.
LGBTQ people live and work in all kinds of communities, urban and rural, so Guthrie said it’s important to educate people in communities of all sizes across Saskatchewan.
“I think it’s important that small town Saskatchewan and rural Saskatchewan also be safe spaces for LGBT people,” she said. “Growing up as somebody who is part of the LGBT community in North Battleford it felt like my only option was to move away, and LGBT people should feel safe to stay in the communities they were raised in, to put down roots here, to contribute to the economic prosperities of their communities and not to move away.”
Guthrie presented one success story in LGBTQ-specific workplace training which will be coming to the Battlefords. OUTSaskatoon recently formed a relationship with SIGA to provide training to all staff about how to make their casinos and offices more LGBTQ-friendly. Gold Eagle Casino staff in North Battleford will be part of that training.
OUTSaskatoon offers educational resources and diversity training for businesses and organizations. Guthrie said prices for diversity training can change depending on the organization because OUTSaskatoon wants education to be accessible.
Sarah Rae is battlefordsNOW's court and crime reporter. She can be reached at [email protected] or tweet her @sarahjeanrae.
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