Beyond the Binary: How to foster LGBTQ+ Inclusion in the Fire Service and Firefighting Camps for Youth

  • October 26, 2023
  • 8:00am-10:00am
  • FESTI - Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute 2025 Courtneypark Drive, East, Mississauga

Facilitated by Mela Swayze

The tide is turning - fire training camps for young women are becoming established in Ontario. Drawing on the expertise of community and fire service members, this session will provide discussion on how to extend inclusion to another underrepresented group: LGTBQ+ and gender non-conforming people.

In this session, you will learn how to support LGTBQ+ and gender non-conforming youth and provide a welcoming, safe training environment at your fire camp. You will gain confidence in recognizing your own biases and avoiding assumptions. This is an opportunity to learn and practice inclusive pronouns. We will share strategies on how to respond to misinformation from colleagues. Join us to share concrete ways to be a role model and ally to those who wish to join the fire family.

Mela Swayze

Mela Swayze (PhD) is a consultant, educator and researcher with expertise in organizational change, facilitation, and 2SLGBTQ+ health equity. Mela has worked in community-based research, municipal government, healthcare, social services and workforce development, consistently striving to support organizations towards inclusive workplaces and accessible service delivery. Mela holds a PhD in Education from York University, focused on equity and anti-racism in multi-stakeholder community-based health interventions.    

Mela has worked in frontline 2SLGBTQ healthcare, founded Hamilton’s Trans ID clinic, and is a board member of the Hamilton Trans Health Coalition. They actively worked alongside numerous 2SLGBTQ+ workers, organizations and collaboratives. While working with the City of Hamilton, they supported the municipality’s Trans Inclusion Protocol and trained more than 2000 employees in 2SLGBTQ inclusion. Mela also supported Hamilton’s LGBTQ2S+ Needs Assessment as a community researcher. Most recently, Mela has worked as a senior consultant in workforce development as well as an EDI consultant practicing with an intersectional, anti-racist lens.