As a young queer person growing up in White Rock, BC, Jacob Schroeder didn’t have many places to turn for friendship with other LGBT youth.
Like others in small communities or farther-flung suburbs — with no gay village or resource centre to turn to — Schroeder found community online and volunteered as a moderator on a forum run by and for queer teenagers.
“It was a lot of closeted kids who had nowhere else to go to be able to talk about what they were going through and to really be themselves,” he says.
The LOUD scholarship program — an initiative of BC’s gay and lesbian business association to support young LGBT leaders — recognized his volunteer work with an award in 2010.
“I think in general, awards like that are beneficial to young people, particularly ones who are pursuing [initiatives] that don’t pay,” Schroeder says.
Schroder is now studying law at the University of Victoria, and credits LOUD and similar scholarship programs with allowing him to take on new projects while continuing his studies.
Earlier this year, he co-founded FactsCan, a nonpartisan fact-checking website on Canadian politics. Schroeder says he was inspired by PolitiFact in the United States.
“Nothing like that existed in Canada so, as I tend to do, I got frustrated with something not being done and so I decided to just go for it,” he says.
With the help of two likeminded individuals and an Indiegogo campaign, FactsCan was launched in time to hold candidates accountable during Canada’s 2015 federal election campaign.
Schroeder notes that while the fact-checking initiative is meant for all Canadians, no matter their identity or political affiliation, marginalized populations may find FactsCan’s mission particularly relevant.
“I think LGBT people have an interest in the truth as much anyone else. I think also we probably can understand the consequences of not thinking about certain things rationally, when there’s policies being made on emotional basis or when there’s decision-making that’s being driven by ideology. That’s not healthy,” Schroeder says.
“I think everybody benefits from it, but perhaps for some LGBT people the lesson is perhaps a bit more salient.”
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