Social worker and adult educator
With a Master’s degree in Adult Education (la Sorbonne, Paris) and a Master’s degree in Social Work (Dalhousie University, Halifax), Bill Ryan is a social worker and adult educator who has been involved in sexual education and prevention related work since 1985 when he founded the first support group for Persons with HIV in the Atlantic Provinces. From there he moved to Montreal to direct support services at Comité sida aide Montreal. Since then he has worked locally, provincially, nationally and internationally on issues related to sex education, prevention, care and policy development.
Presently he teaches in social work at McGill University, and has been or is a consultant to the Québec Ministry of Health and Social Services, Health Canada, the International Federation of Social Workers, UN AIDS, Christian Children’s Fund (Geneva, Kiev (Ukraine), Minsk (Belarus)), UNICEF and to the Canadian AIDS Society. In 2004, he became a consultant to the Ministry of Education, Research and Youth of the Government of Romania, aiding in the implementation of sexual education in the school curriculum there.
Founder & Researcher
He is the founder of Project 10, one of Canada’s largest outreach programs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and two-spirit youth. He developed and managed a Health Canada funded national outreach project to glbt-s youth in several provinces across Canada, called Safe Spaces, where he tested, nationally, the model he developed at Project 10 in Montreal.
A founding member of the McGill AIDS Centre, he has been a member of the National Advisory Committee on AIDS of the federal government, and has been involved in the development of numerous policy, program and training documents. He was chair of the International Symposium on Social Work and HIV, which took place in July 2000.
Over the years he has been on the boards of directors of various organizations including Séro-Zéro, the Farha Foundation, le Centre Pierre-Hénault and has volunteered at several others. His research has centred on gay youth, aging in the gay and lesbian population, sexual education, schoolyard homophobic bullying, access to health care and the development of support services.
He was president of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition, Action Séro-Zéro and of the National Association of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Research. He teaches the only course at McGill on counseling issues related to homosexuality and bisexuality: Critical Issues in Social Work with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Two-Spirit Populations. Soon he will be teaching a new course he is developing in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at McGill University on therapy with same-sex couples.
He has trained on sexual orientation, sexual health and homophobia in schools, health establishments and governments across North America and Europe.
His research experience has included projects funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, National Welfare Grants, the Fonds de Recherche Sociale du Québec (Culture). He is co-chair of the SVR Research Group (Sexual Minorities, Vulnerability and Resilience) which is the first pan-Canadian, interdisciplinary research team studying homophobia and health in Canada. He has studied homophobia and HIV-STI prevention in youth, same-sex couples, same-sex parenting and the experiences of aging in the gay and lesbian community.
Author & Speaker
He has written numerous articles, chapters and edited books on HIV prevention, care and sexuality education. Notably he published conjointly with Bill Rowe a book entitled «Social Work and HIV: The Canadian Experience» (Oxford University Press).
- The first Canadian Conference on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Health held in Saskatoon (2001)
- The first provincial conference on Homophobia and Schools sponsored by the Montreal branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (2002)
- The national conference of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (2002)
- The School’s Out! Conference in Montreal (2003)
- The second national conference on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Health held in Ottawa (2004)
- Featured speaker at the Canadian Teacher’s Federation National Conference on Bullying and Schoolyard Intimidation in Ottawa, Ontario (2005)
- Opening keynote speaker on the International Symposium on Gay Health in Paris, France (2005)
- Opening keynote speaker at the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) world conference in Geneva (2006)
- Opening keynote speaker at the Gay and Lesbian Conference on Aging in Toronto (2007)
- Les Assises Suisses sur l’homophobie en milieu scolaire (2009)
- The Québec Provincial Association of Teachers (2012)
Among distinguished awards he was named Person of the Year (2009) by the Conseil québecois des gaies et des lesbiennes. That same year he was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award by the US Consul-General and the City of Montréal, and in 2010 was named one of the Top-Ten researchers in gender and health by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In 2013, the Conseil LGBT du Québec recognized Bill as one of the most important activists of the past two years.