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A step by step guide to support organizing inclusive events

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Published by YouthLine, 2020-06-03 12:12:35

Organizing 101: A step by Step Guide

A step by step guide to support organizing inclusive events

Keywords: toronto,ontario,canada,youth,lgbtqyouth,lgbtq,queeryouth,queer,community,pride,organizing

Organizing 101:
A Step by Step Guide

This resource was developed by Christine Hsu in partnership with LGBT
YouthLine. LGBT YouthLine provides peer support and youth leadership

opportunities to 2SLGBTQ+ youth across Ontario.

Step 1 Set your intentions and what impacts you’d like to have
by hosting this event; who is it for, what you want to do,
and why are you doing it?

Work backwards; what are the needs of whom you Step 2
want to show up for the event, what supports do you
need to accomplish this, can you attain these supports?

Step 3 Based on your access to resources and supports,
assess how you can maximize what you want to do and
follow up with logistics; set a date/time, visit and book
venue, and any food/beverage for consumption, set a
timeline, delegate tasks and roles.

Based on who your audience is, set a communications/ Step 4
promotions plan; event description, posters, access
restrictions if any, etc), along with participants needs plan
(accessibility/accommodation, dietary restrictions, etc.

About the author

Christine is a first generation immigrant settler who is nonbinary, genderfluid
and a queer neuroatypical woman of colour. She has a strong passion for
and an extensive background in educating and advocating for diversity and
specifically 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion, particularly in sport, health and fitness as well
as in the workplace. Christine works with a team of queer experts/facilitators
and are committed to building capacity for QTBIPOC youth. Visit challenge- to find out who we are!


Things to consider

Consult Community

Before running events, research your community to see
if anyone is already doing something similar and try to
connect with them, or consider doing something new
instead! Consult the people you want to invite to see
what they would like. If you don’t have shared identities
with the people that you want to invite to your space/
event, consider how you can make space to include
these voices at every level of your planning. To explore
this a bit more check out our Organizing 201 resource.

Communicate Boundaries & Expectations

Communicate with any and everyone that you’re working
with about the supports you will need ahead of time along
with the expectations you have of one another (roles and
responsibilities, etc.) How much time does each person
have? What are their skills and interests? Allow this to
inform your planning process.

Process is Your Best Lesson

Understand that your first event may not have high
attendance – leverage your own network to support;
ask for feedback to improve next time

Safety Always

Always consider what you need to do to make sure your
community members are as safe as possible at your events.
2SLGBTQ+ youth will have specific concerns to consider – it helps
to think of the person who will need the most support and start
planning from there. If it’s a GSA event, ask a teacher/supervisor
to support you in any of the steps and if they are able, for safety
needs, in case your school isn’t super welcoming or inclusive.

Seek Feedback

Dynamics between different friend groups in your
community may impact how your event goes. Be open
to learning and getting different feedback along the


Community Building Activity Ideas

Go Outside! Virtual Hangs Do It Together

Find a park nearby and You can also organize Find your local
use that as a meet video chats with people, community centre and
up spot. You can play create a book club, or pick an after-school
games like capture the find a theme to chat program to check
flag, ultimate frisbee, about. You can chat out together. Create
board games, etc. about the latest episode those safer spaces for
Bring a ball and find of a TV series you’re yourselves by attending
icebreakers to do! You watching or look for events and activities
can easily create name a list of queer films to with buddies. You can
tags out of masking check out. try a sport together as
tape, markers, and well!
different colours of tape Consideration: this
to signify pronouns. can reach across more Considerations: it may
expansive locations, be hard to negotiate
Consideration: anything but limit what folks can what event or space
active can be super engage in, in terms of in- works for everyone and
fun, but access may person contact. safety planning would
be limited especially be important to do,
when it’s conditional especially in regards
on weather conditions to navigating spaces
and people’s access to that don’t have gender
movement. neutral bathrooms.


You might have some questions that are specific to your
context! Below are some that could help answer them:

1) There’s a place I want to hang out in with
my group! How do I go about accessing it?

Answer: ASK! Whether it’s a coffee shop, community centre room, a
room in a church, a restaurant/bar, you can try and negotiate with the
manager or anyone in charge to see if they would open their space up
for community use or rental.

2) Okay, so how do I know if a place is
2SLGBTQ+ positive and safer for us?

Answer: Here’s a simple checklist of some things to consider:

✅ Physical signage for queer presence (posters, rainbow flags, positive

space sign, any past events posted that are queer/trans centered)

✅ Access to accessible and gender-neutral washrooms
✅ Presence of culture, language, and any dates they celebrate that may

be queer

Ways you can test the room temperature:

➡ Ask questions about whether they do anything pride related (if

it’s safe for you to ask) and assess their comfort on answering the
question and their answers; whether they’re genuine with what
they share

➡ Look around and see if you see presence of gender diversity
➡ Ask around of anyone you know on what they know of the



If you’re able to talk to the manager/owner, ask questions:

➡ What would they do if someone in the space says something
➡homophobic and/or transphobic?

Do they have any queer staff? (this is to help identify whether
there may be someone who can potentially help support your

➡event/meet up)
If they do have queer staff, ask if you can talk to them as well –

➡get their sense of the space
Ask questions about whether they’ve allowed people to host
events there, what kind of events, how private or semi-private
those events have been like, and what kind of people they allow in
the space are all critical to navigating safety – this is preliminary to

➡safety planning for an event
You can always request the manager/owner to support your
event/group in specific ways and see whether they are supportive
of doing so (e.g. are you able and willing to be present for our
event and comfortable with providing support in case anything
happens? If not, is there anyone who can be?)

3) How do I make sure my own events are safer
and inclusive?

Answer: Along with figuring out safer spaces near you where you can
reduce the possibility of homophobia or transphobia, it’s also important
to think about how you will build a space that feels comfortable and safe
for the people who come.

Think about who you are organizing with. Is everyone coming from the
same background or experience? Are there people being left out? BIPOC
(Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) folks, trans folks, and disabled
folks are often left out of 2SLGBTQ+ organizing. Check out some of our
other resources for some more ideas!


Event Feedback Form

4) How do I know if my event was successful?

Answer: The first step is to set intentions and goals as a group. What
do you want to accomplish? What kind of support do you think your
community needs? Using these goals, turn them into questions and ask
for feedback. A very simple evaluation/feedback form can look like the
one below. It can be one open-ended question or a yes/no question with
a comment box. It can also look like rating of 1-10 scale questions. The
most important part is that you’re giving people a way to communicate
feedback to you. You can also get feedback verbally and informally from
participants during and after the event.

Helpful tip : think back to what kind of impact you want this event to

have and work backwards from there; the questions to help you assess
whether you did well will come through in that process. What does a
successful event look like to you?

Event Feedback Form

Name of event:
Date of event:

1. What was your experience of the event?
2. What did you like about it?
3. What changes can be made for the event to be better next

4. Would you attend again and/or recommend this to anyone?
5. Do you have any ideas on what you might want to see of

this event?
6. Any additional comments?

Thank you! If you have questions or comments, please contact
[email protected] (provide an email that is not your personal one if possible -
remember to set your boundaries!)


5) I ran an event/program/performance, but
someone ended up saying things that didn’t sit well
with me and/or participants. What do I do?

Answer: Taking the time before events or programming to discuss with
your group what folks need to feel comfortable and safer in the space is
really important, as well as deciding how you will respond if something
harmful does happen. Vet anyone new you are asking to come in to
speak, facilitate, or run programming; ask them questions about what
they will talk about, focus on, or how they approach their work is
especially important. What are their views on specific topics that they
mention they will speak on? Do they agree with group guidelines that
you have made together as a group?

You are allowed to negotiate what gets said in the space and draw
boundaries about what is okay or not – asking for content warnings is
more than valid. You can do the work proactively to be in control of your
space – it’s all the more important that you do because when a speaker
is out there on the stage/with a microphone, it’s very hard to control
what is said to the group.

6) Something harmful happened at my group, now what?

Answer: Sometimes harm happens. This can be an opportunity to make
it into a learning moment and decide with the group what is important
to you for the space and what you will or will not stand for. Follow up
with your group/participants about something harmful that happened
at your event – this depends on the severity of what was said and how
you want to assert the fostering of inclusivity and safety in your space.
Safety for the group is priority – start with people who might need
support and negotiate what that looks like for them. After that, you can
follow up with the speaker and provide feedback in saying what was not
okay so they know.

Important thing to keep in mind is, sometimes you can’t stop the harm
from happening, but you can provide the support after and ensure that
people continue to feel seen. Take responsibility of your event and learn
from this.

Check out our Active Listening resource for more info about providing



Event Planning Toolkit

Resource Mobilization Tool Kit

Financial Dashboard Template

Financial Management Resources

Intersectional and Relational Organizing


The YouthOrganize Resource Series was created in 2020 to support 2SLGBTQ+
youth organizing in their communities. The series includes the following

• Organizing 101: A Step by Step Tool
• Organizing 201: Going Deeper
• Accessibility and Organizing
• Active Listening for Organizers
• FNMI: What’s That?
• 2SLGBTQ+ Organizing in Ontario Schools

LGBT YouthLine is a Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit* youth-led organization that
affirms and supports the experiences of youth (29 and under) across Ontario.
We do this by:

• Providing anonymous peer support and referrals;
• Training youth to provide support to other youth; and
• Providing resources so youth can make informed decisions.

For more information about LGBT YouthLine, our programs, and to access
these resources, visit

Funded by

*Language: 2SLGBTQ/Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit
We use 2SLGBTQ+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer) and
Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit interchangeably as umbrella terms to
identify the youth that we serve. We acknowledge that these
terms cannot/do not encompass the rich diversity of identities
that may fall under these umbrellas, including two-spirit, lesbian
gay, bisexual trans, genderqueer, intersex, queer, questioning,
asexual, aromantic, non-binary or any other non-normative
identities related to sexuality and gender.

9 / Graphic design by Laura Hui

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