Gateway Gazette

OUTShine 2015 Connects Canadian LGBTQA High School Students and Educators to Promote Youth Leadership

Toronto–Egale Canada Human Rights Trust presents OUTShine 2015, Canada’s National biennial Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Summit. From May 15th to 17th in Winnipeg, Manitoba, hundreds of high school students and educators from across the country will come together to discuss Lesbian, Gay, Sexual, Trans and Ally (LGBTA) issues, GSA strategies, and anti-bullying initiatives to combat the discrimination and harassment in schools and community that place LGBT youth at increased risk for suicide.

“LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers. And according to recent research, homophobic and transphobic stigma, discrimination and violence are the root causes that have significant impact on the academic performance and mental health of LGBT youth,” says Helen Kennedy, Executive Director, Egale. According to Egale’s seminal report “Every Class in Every School: Final Report on the First National Climate Survey on Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in Canadian Schools (Taylor et al., 2011) LGBT youth deal with greater prejudice and victimization in their schools and correspondingly lower levels of school connectedness. The data is striking as 64% of LGBT students report feeling unsafe in their schools compared to 15% of non-LGBT students, with 20% of LGBT students reporting physical harassment and assault about their perceived gender identity or sexual orientation. “ The research shows that despite the success of general anti-bullying campaigns, there is a need for a focus on anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia initiatives and building the capacity of the school community to create safer schools for LGBT youth,” says, Kennedy.

In partnership with local Winnipeg school boards Louis Riel School Division, Seven Oaks School Division, Winnipeg School Division, and Winnipeg’s Rainbow Resource Centre and Sexuality Education Resource Centre of Manitoba, the three day summit will host over 45 informational and skills building workshops for students and educators, a prom, and keynotes presentations from First Nations artist, film maker, and historian Kent Monkman and first trans Miss Universe contestant, Canadian Jenna Talackova. The summit will also showcase the work of Manitoba’s education community in creating safer and more inclusive schools for all students. Through participation in Egale’s OUTShine 2015, LGBT and ally youth strengthen their sense of identity and self-worth as well as build leadership skills to offset the disproportionate rates of violence, harassment, fear, depression and suicidal ideation.

Source Egale: Canada Human Rights Trust

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