Dear TSVL Members,
As an organization, the Toronto Spartan Volleyball League has spent 40 years hiding behind a veil of selective openness and inclusion. TSVL has prided itself as a safe and inclusive space, and as an advocate for the queer community in our city. We celebrate the long history of players, volunteers, and board members who have contributed to the league becoming one of the largest LGBTQIA2+ sporting leagues in North America. At the same time, we have failed to acknowledge and address issues of systemic Anti-Black Racism in a meaningful, direct, and purposeful manner. Today we are making a pledge to do better.
The TSVL constitution states that TSVL will, “Provide and protect the opportunity for adult individuals, who support the bonds of gay fellowship to play volleyball in an atmosphere of recreational and/or friendly competitive play where they are free of discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and playing ability”. The constitution also states that TSVL will, “have no political affiliation or participate in political issues, except where the function and/or existence of the League is jeopardized, and except where the wellbeing and existence of the Toronto LGBTQ Community is jeopardized.” The well-being of our Toronto LGBTQ Community is jeopardized when we fail – either by omission or complicity – to support all members of the community, not just the dominant majority.
As members and allies of the LGBTQIA2+ community, we know better than most that our very existence is political; our very rights to be who we are and love who we love is political. Being in TSVL with a sole focus on playing volleyball without any regard for politics is a privilege enjoyed by the dominant majority. It is not a privilege held by that Black and Trans folxs within our league. Ignoring that privilege has distanced our league from potential members from the LGBTQIA2+ community who could benefit from the experiences our league provides. Ignoring that privilege has hindered Black and Trans members from participating fully and enjoying the safe, inclusive space that the dominant groups take for granted.
In the past, TSVL has not effectively addressed our own internal biases, acts of transphobia, acts of racism, and acts of anti-blackness that have occurred in the league. We have created a safe space for certain demographics of the LGBTQIA2+ community, and have failed to open that space up to those not in the majority of who our league represents. It is with these actions that our league has been complicit in continuing Canada’s long history of systemic racism and anti-blackness. It is time for TSVL to stand up and do the right thing.
At the first TSVL 2020-2021 board meeting, a proposal was passed to create an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Taskforce (EDIT) to address the issues that affect our league’s ability to be a LGBTQIA2+ sports league that is truly safe for all those who wish to participate. The main goal of EDIT will be to ensure TSVL is aware of and working to eliminate systemic racism, transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, and sexual or gender-bias from our operations, recruitment, communications, and outreach programs.
This taskforce – a starting point for our efforts to make good on this commitment – will be chaired by Tacha Wilks and will be made up of two board members, five-member appointments/volunteers, and three non-TSVL members.
The next year will see EDIT specifically focusing on the following mandates:
- Create an open conversation series to enable anti-racist and anti-Black unlearning within our league.
- Review and reform the TSVL Constitution to be a truly inclusive and evolving document that will properly reflect our league and its goals.
- Investigate and prepare an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion policy for TSVL to be indoctrinated in our Mission, Vision, and Goals for the League.
- Advise the Board on ways to improve equity and diversity, to reduce barriers, and promote greater awareness and inclusion to all TSVL stakeholders including members, affiliated organizations (e.g., OVA Referees), sponsors, and vendors.
- Recommend actions that may impact the overall operations and communications of the league, weekly play, tournaments, special play nights, socials, and development.
- Make recommendations to improve the presence of underrepresented racialized and demographic groups to, at minimum, meet similar levels as the Toronto LGBTQ+ community. Specifically BIPOC, trans, bi, non-binary, and women’s groups.
- Foster a greater understanding of ethnocultural and diversity issues and matters within TSVL.
If you are interested in participating in EDIT, would like to know more about how EDIT will function within TSVL, or would like to share your experiences within TSVL, please feel free to reach out to the EDIT email; email@example.com. It will be maintained only by Shawn P. and all emails will be confidential. Any information shared with the Board or the membership will be stripped of personal information and require written authorization from all those involved.
The TSVL Board of Directors