Nova Scotia Health senior analyst, Robin Latta, calls for representation of the queer community in professional spaces

Robin Latta, senior analyst for Nova Scotia Health in Amherst
Robin Latta, senior analyst for Nova Scotia Health in Amherst

“As an analyst, I’m never going to save anyone’s life, but knowing that I’m helping to educate and inform frontline care providers … I know that my community is getting the care that they need or at the very least getting the language that they deserve,” said Robin Latta, senior analyst for Nova Scotia Health in Amherst.

Representation for every community within personal and professional spaces is paramount for the positive development of young people’s aspirations and self-esteem.

Queer people tend to be underrepresented in these spaces and this can leave queer youth/people feeling disillusioned about the value and validity of their roles within personal and professional environments.   

Latta is a proud gay woman working as an agent of change to promote representation for the queer community, serving as a committee member of the Pride Network, which is made up of staff from Nova Scotia Health and the IWK who are part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

She works closely with pride coordinator Garry Dart, supporting them with planning and distributing information for the network’s goals.

She is also a co-chair of the Northern Zone diversity and inclusion committee (and sits on the provincial committee), which looks for meaningful ways to develop skills and competencies to better address the needs of the pride community.

Growing up gay with no positive representation and no queer/pronoun language, being able to hold these spaces where people are willing to learn and be respectful of the queer community fills her heart with gratitude.

“I often think about my 13-year-old self … When I was growing up there were no ‘gay’ people … They were in a secret society somewhere, hidden because of fear and no one talked about it. You just grow up with so much internalized homophobia. We have progressed, gay marriage became legal in Canada in 2005, Nova Scotia added gender expression and gender identity to the Human Rights Act in 2012,” said Latta.

She wants youth, queer youth and everyone else to know that it’s okay to be who you are.

“There are still 13-year-olds who don’t know or haven’t seen a role model or had the language given to them,” said Latta. “I’m happy to be in front because I feel it’s important and it’s my role and responsibility to represent because not everybody has the safety and security that I have to be able to speak out and live their truth and that’s something we need to work to eliminate.”

Latta was one of the co-authors of a safer spaces training module that was developed for staff in Northern Zone and has since been adopted and rolled out throughout the province.

“Shirley Symes and I co-developed a competency-based training module that focused on language, pronouns, elements of safer spaces, terminology to create empathy and understanding of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and to give folks the skills and the language to meet our community where we were,” explained Latta.

“A lot of the work that we have done is with caring professionals. Those folks who have 2SLGBTQIA+ clients or patients and them having the knowledge and the language to meet our community is important in creating safer spaces for community within health care spaces.”

Working with her colleagues in the Pride Network to build community strength has been an empowering vehicle for Latta.

“I have a hard time finding the right words to emphasize the importance and significance of validating not only our existence but celebrating who we are in our professional lives. That’s wildly important for our wellbeing, our professional success and our sense of belonging in this organization.”

Although as of 2022 many strides have been made for the Queer community Latta believes we still have further to go.

“I think it’s very easy for people to think ‘We’ve arrived at the land of equity and everything’s A-okay!’ We have these great parade marches and so therefore they think we’ve arrived and we’ve not. The experiences of many within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is negative. The Pride community experience higher rates of harm and discrimination, and not accessing care because of safety and/or appropriateness. We still need representation. We need people throughout the organization at all levels in all disciplines to be out if they feel safe,” explained Latta.

“We need to – as an organization – work to create the conditions so that our staff can be out, be visible and represent because representation matters to your colleagues, clients and patients. It means more than most folk can appreciate.”