Photo: Chris Young/Chris Young for The Globe and Mail
Christopher Karas is sought out by many since he first made headlines at the young age of 17 when he challenged his school board. He challenged his then French Catholic School Board, CSDCCS, Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud and his school, École secondaire catholique Sainte-Famille at the Human Rights Tribunal when the school board barred him from putting up posters of his civil rights hero Harvey Milk and a Gender and Sexuality Alliance that Karas and his peers had tried to build through high school. As a result, the school now has a GSA and the school board has since changed it's name. The board is now known as Conseil Scholaire Catholique MonAvenir. Karas was first heard at Xtra! and would then be featured at the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and the CBC to name a few. Karas now garners national and international press.
When Karas wished to do more than challenge his board, he inspired Canada's first Annual Jer's Vision, Dare To Stand Out: GSA Forum. The Jer's Vision team and Karas raised over
$ 10,000 to support the now named Gender and Sexuality Alliance Forum. It wouldn't have been possible without the outstanding work of Kole Peplinskie, Sarah Littisha Jansen, the dedicated volunteers at the Centre and Jeremy Dias. The Annual Gender and Sexuality Alliance Forum is Canada's only weeklong youth-run training forum on diversity and inclusion. The forum trains youth to create safer spaces and prevent bullying in their schools. Participants impacted an estimated 42,500 youth in their schools across the province in 2014.
Among many honours, Tegan and Sara named Karas one of their "Legion of Queer Heroes" at World Pride 2014. He is among the select few alumni of the Ryerson University first Inaugural School of Jack Layton for Youth Leadership. He notably spoke at World Pride 2014 (the largest Pride event in North America), was featured in the last print issue of Xtra!, wore #TheGaySweater that toured Fashion Week 2015, made the cover of Le Métropolitain Pride Issue (the June 30th Issue announced that the highest court in the United-States had made equal marriage legal across the US) alongside the Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, included in the "Sit With Us" Pride Toronto Campaign 2016 (the campaign included the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau) and was awarded a Scholarship to attend the National Conference on LGBTTIQA2S Human Rights in Montreal.
Karas is now challenging Canada's Gay Blood Ban at the Canadian Human Rights Commission to change our Canadian blood policy. Men that have had sex with other men in the last year aren't able to give blood in Canada. The policy also bars women who have had sex with men who had sex with other men. The federal legal challenge approved as of September 3rd 2016 could result in significant policy changes and may be heard at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. A decision made by the Tribunal could challenge the policy that bars both men who have had sex with other men and women who have had sex with a men who's had sex with other men. Meanwhile, Health Canada announced a new policy to bar Trans Women. Karas supports C-16 (An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code) and may represent Trans folks in the future to challenge the discriminatory blood policy.
Karas is also considering a legal challenge on organ regulations in Canada. In the meantime, he is building an advocacy startup. More will be shared soon.
(Upcoming) "The 5th Canadian GSA Leadership Forum" at York University, Canadian Centre for Gender + Sexual Diversity, May 8, 2018
(Upcoming) "The Ontario Educators Conference" at University of Toronto, Canadian Centre for Gender + Sexual Diversity, April 25, 2018
Speaker, "Colloques LGBTQ+", Fédération de la Jeunesse Franco-Ontarienne, October 20, 26 and 27 2017, Sudbury, Toronto & Ottawa, ON
Speaker, "Never Alone: LGBTQ+ Activism and Collective Action Forum", Humber Inst. of Tech. & Adv. Learning, June 10, 2017, Toronto, ON
Speaker, "Inclusion and Diversity in Mississauga", Mobilizing 22: A Youth, Leadership & Policy Conference, July 25, 2015, Mississauga, ON
Speaker, "2nd Annual Gender and Sexuality Alliance Forum", The Canadian Centre for Gender + Sexual Diversity, May 5, 2015, Toronto, ON
Speaker, "Panel sur les droits des personnes LGBT au Canada et par le monde", July 23, 2014, FrancoQueer and Action Positive, Toronto, ON
Speaker, "GSAs, Homophobia & Transphobia in Schools: Know Your Rights", Canadian Civil Liberties Association, June 25, 2014, Toronto, ON
Speaker, "Engaging in Politics and With Institutions for Human Rights", DARE, On. Human Rights Commission, June 24, 2014, Toronto, ON
Speaker, "1st Annual Gender and Sexuality Alliance Forum", The Canadian Centre for Gender + Sexual Diversity, May 5, 2014, Toronto, ON
Interviewed, “Some still aren’t out to their family and friends. It’s really about creating a safe space at school for everyone”, Toronto Star,
December 19, 2013
Interviewed, ""I think the way [the school board] responded to my human-rights-tribunal application is a lot like the way they've responded
to me", The Globe and Mail, April 20, 2014
Interviewed, "My parents believed in the values of the Catholic church which are acceptance, love and respect... From what they've seen,
they understand that's not what's being taught in our Catholic schools", Toronto Sun, March 11, 2014
The Government of Canada, Government of Ontario and CDI commissioned the film.
"A documentary short about online harassment, ‘cyberbullying,’ among urban teens
in North America." The Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS), Youth Justice
Services Division (YJSD), the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
(MCSCS) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) began the partnership to develop
a response to the issue of cyberbullying and sexting that would provide an alternative
to criminal charges and use of the court. The project received support from the
Department of Justice Canada.
Karas may be seen in "Susan Gapka: A Documentary Film"
The film has not yet been released. You may support the film on kickstarter.
The Documentary Film looks at the life of transgender activist Susan Gapka.
Karas is featured ON THE COUCH
Produced by INspired Media Inc. a Presentation of theBUZZ