Everyone should feel welcome at Rolla Skate Club!

We launched this business from a desire to help people, and make people feel really good about themselves, using rollerskating as the tool. Our goal was to take the “special sauce” that we got from roller derby, that we personally saw have a profound effect on so many women, and make it more accessible to a wider community. As women co-founders (cisgender, heterosexual), we focussed on what we knew, and inequities that we understood, and so we made the empowerment of women a specific focus of our goals, our language, and our marketing.

That being said, we still wanted everyone to feel included at Rolla Skate Club, in particular trans women, and non-binary folks. And we’ve always had most of our classes and events open to all genders, with just a few contact-sport sessions excluding men.  We wanted to be clear that we welcomed trans women and non-binary skaters in addition to cisgender female skaters, and so in 2018 we included a statement on our website and social media channels stating, “We use an inclusive definition of the terms “woman” and “female” to welcome all trans + cis women, genderqueer, and non-binary folks.”  We have since learned that this statement was harmful, thanks to the efforts of community members who called us in and called us out about it. 

What we now understand is that using language like “women +,” or lumping non-binary people in with spaces oriented towards women, is invalidating to the identity and experience of non-binary folks. We have learned that gender identity is not like a linear spectrum, and not static, but rather more like a colour wheel, with infinite possibilities, that may change over time or be constantly fluid. To suggest that any non-binary person automatically associates themselves with a women-oriented space or activity was wrong, and harmful.

We are sincerely sorry to those in the trans community, and others, who were harmed by our misguided choice of language. We are sorry that there are folks who didn’t feel like Rolla Skate Club was open to them, because of the language we were using. We are committed to taking action to repair relationships, rebuild trust, and make Rolla Skate Club a welcoming place for all kinds of skaters.

Gender Inclusivity Action Plan:

This is to become a living document. As we make progress on these actions and goals, this static blog post list will be translated to a live Google Doc. Even when we have “ticked a box” on this list, we understand and commit to our community that the effort and the learning must continue, and we must be ready to receive new information and make changes and improvements as we go. 

For now, here is our action plan.

  • Participate in QMunity’s “Queer Competency Training” workshop with co-founders, team leaders, and customer service team members (DONE, December 10, 2021)
  • Share learnings & resources from QMunity workshop with additional team members, and implement new expectations around pronoun use (ONGOING- target complete by Dec 17, 2021); 
  • Review existing Gender Inclusion onboarding training materials, adding resources and expectations resulting from our QMunity workshop (TARGET: mid-January 2022)
  • Remove an offensive gender statement, which was invalidating and harmful to non-binary participants, from website & social media channels (DONE, November 3-6 2021) and apologise privately and publicly to those who came forward to raise concerns (Public apologies made Nov 5 2021 and Dec 13 2021)
  • Revise website & social media tag line to remove reference to women, and instead read “An empowered community of strong skaters” (DONE, November 2021)
  • Update the name of our global Facebook community, from “Rolla Skate Club Girl Gang” to “Rolla Skate Club Worldwide;” update group description & rules (DONE, December 13, 2021)
  • Work with a paid consultant (non-binary skater & parent, Psych Ph.D candidate) to implement 1) a community survey & 2) a permanent feedback forum on our website (ONGOING. TARGET: end January 2022)
  • Continue to encourage all class participants to share their pronouns at the outset of each class, if they so choose (ONGOING since 2018)
  • Continue to model the use of gender-neutral group pronouns, such as: skaters, humans, people, athletes (rather than: ladies, guys, etc) in our classes and on our public communications, e.g. social media (ONGOING since 2018)
  • Continue to model our gender policy for roller derby participation and competition based on the frameworks of the Womens Flat Track Derby Association’s gender inclusion policy, and True Sport principles developed by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. (ONGOING – review annually or more frequently as may be necessary. Policy in place since Nov 2018)
  • Provide Gender-Neutral washroom facilities (ONGOING since we’ve had space rented). Continue to work with the PNE to encourage updates to their City-mandated washroom signage to be gender neutral. 
  • Revise our “Our Story” webpage to move away from a focus on working with women specifically (DONE, December 2021)
  • Conduct a holistic review of the organisation’s internal Mission statement and Values to reflect the learnings resulting from community consultation. (TARGET: Spring 2022)
  • Build partnerships with organisations working in queer communities to provide opportunities for access to rollerskating (ONGOING)

As an organisation, Rolla Skate Club is committed to lifelong learning – we are always open to listening, learning and doing better. If you have any suggestions for how we can achieve this and do better, please contact us directly at hello@rollaskateclub.com.

Thank you to everyone in this community for believing in us and holding us to a high standard.