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Working Towards Systemic Change

Working towards systemic change requires educators, writers, artists, community members and activists who bring different perspectives to the challenges we are facing today and are willing to take risks. Queer Studies in Education and CultureL'étude de l’allosexualité dans l’éducation et culture (ÉAÉC) emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support LGBTQ+ communities, and a desire for actions to speak louder than words. Established in 2000, we’re an organization driven by progressive ideas, bold actions, and a strong foundation of support. Contact us to learn more and get involved.



After many discussions, and after reviewing the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA)’s Feb 9th statement re: Congress 2021,The Queer Studies in Education and Culture (QSEC) Special Interest Group has made the decision to 

  • hold a scaled-back gathering at Congress this year 

  • and plan a speaker series that will run from summer 2021 to next year’s conference that ...

    • highlights the work of Black queer and trans scholars and community members; Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer, Indigenous queer and trans academic, educators, and youth; Asian queer and trans scholars and communities; Latinx queer and trans scholars and community members; disabled/Crip, chronically ill/Sick, mental illness/Mad, neurodiverse queer and trans scholars; and BIPOC trans women and femmes

    • and focuses on mentoring early career scholars, particularly QTBIPOC grad students


As members of QSEC, we were deeply troubled by the racial profiling of Shelby McPhee in 2019 by attendees of Congress, the presence of RCMP, and the lack of response by the Federation representative. This year, we are troubled by and have discussed at length the response of the Federation regarding BSCA’s very reasonable requests to waive the fees of BSCA student-members/community members and to make an ongoing commitment to centering Blackness at Congress. We encourage all QSEC members to read the BSCA’s statement as well as rosalind hampton’s essay, “The Black Canadian Studies Association and Changing Academia: Thoughts on Congress”


Upon reading multiple group statements, we considered the following options: (1) remove QSEC  from the conference altogether; (2) create an alternative conference; or (3) hold a scaled-back QSEC conference at CSSE. We opted for the final choice for the following reasons. 

  • we aim to conduct insider activism and continue to participate and facilitate  ongoing conversations around how to disrupt whiteness and coloniality within our SIG, and the CSSE in general, which includes planning events at this year’s CSSE conference focused on Blackness, Indigeneity, queerness, and transness

  • We aim to create spaces within the conference where people can have discussions about race/racialization, class, queerness, transness, ability, gender etc.

  • we work diligently to  support grad students and early career scholars, particularly QTBIPOC academics, who are dependent on citations for future career opportunities


Considering the care and well-being of our members was crucial to our decision-making process. Firstly, we aim to honour those who have put time and effort into submitting applications to present and may need conference presentation opportunities. We also aim to honour the labour of scholars (particularly grad students and QTBIPOC) who submitted to present at QSEC, as well as the keynote speaker, Dr. Andrew Campbell, whose work focuses on Black joy and resistance within queer/trans scholarship. We recognize conference citations on CVs are key for grad students, which influenced our decision to not withdraw. Secondly, listening to the BCSA’s statement that Black Canadians and Indigenous people are more severely impacted by cases of COVID-19 and considering various racialized acts of violence happening at this time, we think it is important to recognize the potential exhaustion, trauma, grief and financial constraints that BIPOC people might be dealing with. The BSCA called for focusing on “our collective well-being and to take the opportunity to re-imagine anticolonial activism under conditions of forced physical distancing.” This is why we have chosen to host a scaled-back version of QSEC at CSSE. Scaling back the conference is one act of care that we believe will provide presenters both the opportunity to present as well as more space and time to care for themselves during these difficult times.  


Although we have decided to participate in CSSE, we deeply respect and validate the decision for other groups to withdraw from the conference, and have only decided to participate after multiple meetings in which we discussed myriad ways that disrupt the status-quo, while simultaneously supporting QSEC members.  As the Black Lives Matter and Idle No More movements have demonstrated, disruption is a powerful force for change and we urge our members to consider ways that we can decenter whiteness, challenge coloniality, and unlearn racism in our academic practices and lives. Academic spaces, like Congress, are inherently colonial and white; their organization and structure upholds traits of white supremacy that Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun (2001) have written about in the Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups: perfectionism, sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, only one right way, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of open conflict, individualism, progress is more, objectivity, and right to comfort.

Different queer and trans theories/pedagogies are also concerned with disrupting norms. It is important that we act in solidarity with Black scholars, activists, and communities in various scholarly fields and community mobilizing efforts, while taking into account queer and trans subjectivities, perspectives, and lived experiences. We plan on being disruptive this year by offering a statement before each presentation session that urges our members to reflect on our responsibilities to challenge racism within our field and worlds more broadly. Dr. Andrew Campbell’s keynote is also focused on the intersection of Blackness and queerness. Beyond sharing this statement and having a speaker address Blackness and queerness, we are dedicated to planning future conferences that address the intersections of race, sexuality and gender as well as ability and class. 


Our executive team had been deeply and collectively reflecting on and dialoguing about ways to challenge whiteness and coloniality within our special interest group prior to the BSCA 2021 statement. These discussions were amplified by the BLM protests that erupted during the summer of 2020. This context forced us to look more deeply at our own complicity and how we can act in greater solidarity with BIPOC scholars, community members, artists, activists, and the general population. We see part of that work as modelling a shift in queer and trans scholarship that decentres whiteness and coloniality. QSEC is a small SIG and out of our current 9 executive members, only 2 members are racialized. Beyond our executive team, we have noticed that the majority of scholars who present at QSEC are white or white-presenting. These two issues mirror the fact that queer and trans academic spaces are often white-centred. Because whiteness is pervasive in queer and trans scholarship -- for example, colonial notions of gender and sexuality are prevalent and Blackness and Indigeneity are often treated as add-ons -- we continue to think more deeply about how can we create a space that focuses on the intersections of anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-ableist, anti-classist, femme-inist, queer and trans work. Part of this work also means examining ways that traits and logics of whiteness and coloniality manifest in our relationships and practices. We have a long way to go to make queer and trans academic spaces better for BIPOC and QTBIPOC scholars, but we are dedicated to this work. We aim to build a space where queer and trans scholars across Turtle Island can come together and learn from one another. 


These are a few of the initiatives and efforts we have taken up over the past year and are currently planning/doing:

  • We are in discussions to change our name to reflect intersectional commitments to anti-racism, anti-colonialism, anti-ableism, anti-classism, transness, and non-binaryness alongside queerness

  • We are in the process of re-writing our mandate to emphasize our more nuanced values related to racism/racialization and decentering whiteness and coloniality

  • We want to create a mentorship program and more events for QTBI2SPOC scholars (see speaker series listed at the beginning of this statement)

  • We want to make our events more financially accessible to QTBIPOC scholars and community members

  • We want to advocate for more creative submissions, talking circles, open discussion, storytelling, and art-based submissions (non-Western formats that privilege a traditional paper format)

  • We are working to become a full group (not a special interest group) so that we have more autonomy over making decisions

  • We have begun an anti-racism book club and discussion group  within our executive where we are reading books by BIPOC scholars, activists, educators, and activists that address anti-racism and center BIPOC/QTBIPOC voices and experiences


Overall, we recognize the importance of groups challenging racism within CSSE. There are many ways to disrupt whiteness and coloniality and our hope is that these efforts work in conjunction with one another. This work cannot and should not only occur when there are publicized racist moments showcasing the discrimination and inequities that Black people, Indigenous peoples, and POC experience every day. We hope that regardless of individual groups’ decisions to boycott or participate In CSSE and Congress that everyone takes the opportunity to reflect on their role within a structure that is inherently racist and colonial. We invite everyone to reflect on Black, Indigenous, and POC futurities, and how we can create spaces for resistance, coalition-building, and community across scholarly, activist, educational, and artistic fields.


With care and in solidarity,


Queer Studies in Education and Society, Special Interest Group 2020 Committee

Tara Goldstein (Co-President)

Gylnnis Lieb (Co-President)

Andrew Campbell (Co-Chair)

Jake DesRochers (Co-Chair)

Bridget Stirling (Secretary & Treasurer)

Kate Reid (Member)

Lindsay Cavanaugh (Grad Member)

Bishop Owis (Grad Member)

Lee Iskander (Communications)