Egale Canada and OverActive Media have announced its new collaboration to boost the inclusion of LGBTQI2S youth and young adults in esports. LGBTQI2S is the blanket term for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and two-spirit individuals and groups.
Egale Canada is an organization with the vision of having a world free of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, and all other forms of oppression. The organization does so through the promotion of human rights and inclusion through awareness campaigns, legal advocacy, research, and education.
Meanwhile, OverActive Media is an esports organization that connects fans with their favorite teams and games through audience engagement. This is in addition to combining franchised team ownership with engagement in order to connect with corporate sponsors and partners worldwide. The organization owns the Toronto Defiant, which plays in the Overwatch League, as well as the Toronto Ultra, which participates in the Call of Duty League.
Tracer and her girlfriend Emily from the Overwatch comic books.
LGBTQI2S inclusion in esports
Together, the two organizations will help the esports industry improve in terms of inclusion and diversity. This would be in addition to identifying opportunities that LGBTQI2S individuals need in the competitive gaming space.
Findings from this new collaboration would be focused in Ontario as well, and the insights gathered would be used to help inform future esports initiatives. This would include interventions focused on the development of social skills, policy, best practice reform, and youth-led solutions.
A seed grant of $71,600 CAD from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will also help with achieving these goals.
“This funding comes at a time when online activities like esports and gaming are at an all-time high and inevitably with that comes increased cyberbullying and discrimination – areas we know already disproportionately impact LGBTQI2S young people,” said Egale executive director Helen Kennedy.
Kennedy added that Egale’s hope is to successfully support youth-led solutions after identifying some of the unique struggles of those involved in online gaming and esports.
Building a safer community
Paulo Senra, the global head of public relations at OverActive Media, shared similar sentiments. Senra said that the gaming community can only take tangible action once it names and addresses the challenges faced by LGBTQI2S youth. The collaboration with Egale Canada would make the esports industry a safer and better place.
According to a research report by Danielle Vitali, youth is increasingly becoming active in digital spaces. “From Bullies to Heroes: Homophobia in Video Games” found that up to 97% of teenagers play video games have a history involving cyberbullying.
“Today is a continuation of some of the work we’ve already started with the LGBTQI2S community, and we have more to do to begin creating the space for further discussions and progress in several other communities,” Senra added.
Suze Morrison, the MPP of Toronto Centre, thanked both Egale Canada and OverActive Media for their work in supporting LGBTQI2S inclusion in the esports industry. This initiative will provide more opportunities and a safer space for individuals to participate in online activities.
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