2 min

Out in high school

New group aims to be the voice of youth

LIFE LESSONS. Patrick Juneau wants to make schools safer. Credit: Rob Thomas

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not an Ottawa high school student, says 19-year-old Patrick Juneau.

“I know people who are just terrified of picking up a Capital Xtra because somebody might see them with it in the street and think that they’re gay,” says Juneau. “And for them, that’s a horrible, horrible fear.”

That type of fear is one reason that Juneau, along with Éric-Daniel Sabourin, has launched a youth-governed charity organization that aims to become the “voice for rainbow youth in Ottawa and the Eastern Ontario Region.”

Diversité 101 Diversity arose from discussions between Sabourin and Juneau in August last year. The two recent high school grads have experience working with youth: Juneau is co-coordinator of Pink Triangle Services’ Pink Triangle Youth group, while Sabourin is a former co-coordinator. Both also had various educational materials they had developed in the past and were eager to see those projects implemented.

There are three 101 Diversity programs:

Out And Loud, which will offer a series of workshops on topics like homophobia, racism and coming out;

Let’s Talk About It, a formalized education workshop using arts, music and multimedia presentation; and

QT Magazine, a resource for and by queer teens. First launched in November 2002, the magazine stalled due to lack of funds and is looking for stability as part of 101 Diversity.

“Our goal is to start doing things in the next school year,” Juneau says. “Our heavy concentration right now is to make people understand why these services are needed and how we can help them get them.”

101 Diversity aims to serve all four Ottawa school boards: the French and English separate and the French and English public. Juneau says that response from the public school boards has been good but the group is still working on support from the others.

The group has recently recruited an all-youth board of directors and is currently looking for help for their efforts.

“We’re looking for recommendations, financial, anything that we can find essentially. Because we want to make our name known but we also want to show that people believe in what we do,” says Juneau.

Juneau, who was never really out in high school because he recognized the dangers, says his objective is to make being out in schools a safe thing.

“The objective is to make schools a safer place, period,” he adds with emphasis.