The LGBT+ Rotary Fellowship advances inclusivity

The fellowship is a valuable resource as it provides a safe and welcoming space for the LGBT+ community, and friends, to connect with others

By Claudia Urbano, Rotary Service and Engagement Staff

Mary Lou Harrison, of the Rotary Club of Toronto-Sunrise, Canada, is a charter member of the LGBT+ Rotary Fellowship. She was instrumental in organizing District 7070’s participation in her city’s Pride parade. Toronto, Canada. 19 March 2023. Find the story in “Rotary” magazine, June 2023.
Mary Lou Harrison grew up in a Rotary family. Her father, Don Foster, joined Rotary in 1961, and Mary Lou was involved in Rotary activities from a young age, which allowed her to learn about the importance of service and giving back to the community. Her father was also a strong advocate for the role of women in Rotary and spoke about how important it was to recognize their contributions to the organization. This message resonated with Mary Lou. She has dedicated her life to making Rotary a more diverse and inclusive organization. “I want everyone to feel like they can make a difference in their communities,” she says. “And I want everyone to feel like they have a safe place to be themselves and give back.”

In 2018, Mary Lou helped to establish the LGBT+ Rotary Fellowship. This is a branch within the Rotary family whose goal is to create an inclusive, understanding, and welcoming community, fostering goodwill, peace, and fundamental fairness and equality for LGBT+ people.

The fellowship is a valuable resource as it provides a safe and welcoming space for the LGBT+ community, and friends, to connect with others, learn about LGBT+ issues, and get involved in Rotary. The fellowship also works to make Rotary a more inclusive organization, and it is helping to create a world where LGBT+ people are treated with fairness and equality. Membership also grants access to the fellowship’s private members’ forum, where discussions on topics relevant to LGBT+ people in Rotary take place.

Service is a key aspect of the fellowship’s mission. It collaborates with Rotary Action Groups, Rotary districts, clubs, and other members of the Rotary family to develop and support service projects that support LGBT+ communities.

Friendship holds a central position within the fellowship as well. By prioritizing friendship, the fellowship aims to cultivate a secure, inclusive, understanding, and welcoming community within the Rotary family.

Education is another vital area of focus for the fellowship. It provides a variety of resources to help the Rotary family learn about and engage with diversity, inclusion, and equity.

If you are interested in learning more about the LGBT+ Rotary Fellowship, please visit their website.

This story is adapted from the June 2023 issue of Rotary magazine.


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