A big thank you to the North Vancouver School Board for hosting us as part of their full day of Diversity and Inclusion events. A thank you specifically to Melanie Learoyd, District Principal of Inclusive Education, and Janis Mann, District Vice Principal of Inclusive Education for their collaborative and inclusive approach and initiatives.

We presented a full day professional development workshop for teachers, school administrators and staff, and had the honour of attending keynote by storyteller, performer, author and educator, Ivan Coyote. Ivan offers incredible resources that we highly recommend, and we will be adding a selection of Ivan’s work into our own resources on this website.

What #1: LGBTQ+ Awareness 101 Workshop for Teachers, Administrators and Staff
When #1: February 7th, 2020 from 10:30-12pm
What #2: LGBTQ+ Awareness 201 Workshop for Teachers, Administrators and Staff
When #2: February 7th, 2020 from 1-3pm
Where: Carson Graham Secondary, North Vancouver, BC

LGBTQ+ Awareness 101 Workshop for Teachers, Administrators and Staff

In this era of internet and social media, children are not growing up in the same world that we adults did. This new access to diverse voices has increased awareness for young people, who are now exploring their identities earlier and earlier, including their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Currently, 19% of BC high school students identify as not exclusively heterosexual. This number of queer and/or questioning students may surprise older generations, but our awareness is a key aspect in creating safety. Queer youth are at far greater risk for depression, addiction, violence and suicide. Research shows that a positive and affirming school experience is highly influential in youth resilience. We work to provide tools for teachers and staff to enable them to feel confident in their ability to support all youth, in particular when addressing cultural differences and parental apprehension. A diverse and inclusive environment enables all youth, teachers, staff, and parents to thrive and experience a genuine sense of belonging.

101 Topics

• How this impacts every teacher and student
• Overview of current status for youth
• LGBTQ+ language and diverse perspective
• Gender identity, orientation, pronouns
• Privilege and bias
• Why the evolution of identity matters
• Classroom and school environments

LGBTQ+ Awareness 201 Workshop for Teachers, Administrators and Staff

Beyond our own education and research, we have had the privilege of hearing many stories from local youth, parents and educators. In conjunction with our own experience as queer members of the community, we’ve distilled a variety of themes and stories into scenarios that we can deconstruct as a group. As we explore the complexity of navigating many different situations from the perspective of youth, parent, teacher and administrator, we hope to facilitate our collective social emotional learning. NOTE during the interactive portions of this workshop, participants will be invited to speak but never called upon. We endeavour to create a safer space and not put anyone in an uncomfortable situation.

201 Topics

• What does it feel like to be LGBTQ+
• Tackling LGBTQ+ comments in the classroom
• Intersections between LGBTQ+ identity and ethnicity
• Talking points for concerned parents
• Homophobia and allyship within the workplace

About Us

Michele Fogal

Michele is a diversity educator, communications consultant and business coach on the North Shore. She has a BFA in Creative Writing, is a traditionally published author of 3 books, and speaks internationally about diversity at writing conferences. She was Small Business BC’s social media expert for 4 years and now works for the West Vancouver School Board. She has begun a master’s program in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a focus on equity and education.

Caroline Wedderspoon

Caroline is a diversity educator and a registered clinical counsellor. She works on the North Shore, in several different environments. She is in private practice at Alyson Jones and Associates, and works as a therapist at WorkBC and at CMHA (The Canadian Mental Health Association). Until recently, she worked at Qmunity, Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ Resource Centre. One of her areas of specialization is working with the LGBTQ+ community.

About Divine Diversity

Michele and Caroline first created the Divine Diversity team to support their own community on the North Shore. They provide diversity presentations, workshops, consultation and strategy. Their clients include non-profit societies, community organisations, schools and government departments. Their goal is to facilitate an evolution beyond tolerance, through acceptance, and into celebration of the divine wealth diversity brings. Our website, divinediversity.com, is growing with resources for parents, schools and other organisations.

About Rainbow Families

Our Facebook Group – Rainbow Families of BC’s North Shore https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowFamiliesNorthShore/
A connection point online, and a warm, in-person social space for parents and caregivers who identify as LGBTQQIP2SA, parents and caregivers of queer or questioning children, queer aunties, uncles and elders, queer and questioning youth, and allies interested in supporting diversity and inclusion. All generations are included in events.

Contact Us

Michele Fogal and Caroline Wedderspoon divinediversitylives@gmail.com
Find Out More
Resources for Parents – DivineDiversity.com

Our Facebook Group – Rainbow Families of BC’s North Shore https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowFamiliesNorthShore/

LGBTQ+ Context– Bridging the Invisible Generation Gap
Road Blocks in North Vancouver

As LGBTQ+ educators and advocates, one of the largest roadblocks we face in North Vancouver is that the majority of the adult population does not see a need for further awareness or education unless they themselves have an LGBTQ+ child, and even then, may still be resistant to the idea of their own ignorance around queer topics. Most adults believe that “the situation here is quite good” or “I already know so much about that, I don’t need to learn more.” The problem here is that we don’t know what we don’t know.


For at-risk youth, this is a generational blind spot. Adults today grew up in a very different world than the children of today, and we need to recognize the gaps in understanding in order to bridge them. At the moment, this knowledge gap greatly impacts kids’ ability to feel safe at home or at school, to feel heard when they bring up concerns, to feel that their identity is welcome or respected, and to trust that bullying will be addressed well if brought up at school. All of these experiences impact a child’s ability to thrive and learn at school.

At-risk Youth

Currently, 19% of BC high school students identify as not exclusively heterosexual. 50% of all male youth suicides are LGBTQ. One quarter of all suicides between the ages 12-14 are LGBT. For trans youth between the ages of 11 and 19, suicide rates can be as high as 50%. Our LGBTQ+ youth are also at greater risk for addiction, poor mental health, dropping out of school, being the victims of violence, and homelessness. Some of the youth in our neighbourhood may feel well supported, but it’s important to recognize that each family is unique and our multicultural community includes many different values and traditions. In order to care for our youth population as a whole, we need better awareness for all educators and administrators.

Bridging the Gap

For every child, their relationships at home are key to surviving the challenges they face, and to thriving as loved, supported and empowered people. As parents, professionals and advocates for our youth, we would like to support them by sharing information and creating a safe space to engage teachers in conversation. Addressing the generation gap between adults and youth is one of the primary factors in creating safety and well being for everyone by reducing our children’s vulnerability.