The ban on gay-straight alliances by a Catholic school board was a harsh reminder that allocating resources to fighting homophobic student bullying while ignoring publicly funded bigotry targets the symptom and not the source.
Every day thousands of Ontario students continue to be subject to anti-gay religious teachings. Worse, if you’re in Ontario — no matter which box you tick off come tax time — you’re paying for it.
And the deafening silence from our provincially elected officials while news of the ban emerged means that finding relief for these students will be a long and daunting prospect.
In the meantime, starting next month, you can Show Your Love for Ontario’s queer and questioning youth for a full 28 days.
Starting Feb 1, the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line will launch its second annual Show Your Love campaign, an opportunity for individuals, groups and businesses to host special fundraising events throughout the month.
The spirit behind the campaign is similar to the peer-to-peer nature of the phoneline itself, explains acting executive director Brandon Sawh. “The campaign’s about getting other people involved to raise awareness about the Youth Line,” he says.
“The main thing is getting individuals to do the third-party events where people become ambassadors for us.”
In 2010, the first edition of the campaign, $20,000 was raised.
Participants can host cocktail parties, dinner parties, games, or even a “spicy kissing booth.” If you’re stumped for an idea, Sawh says he’s happy to brainstorm with those who are interested but aren’t entirely sure what to organize. “We’ve got tons of ideas!” he says.
Participants will be provided with a kit full of information about the LGBT Youth Line to share with their guests and instructions for creating an online “Giving Page.”
Groups can participate as well, including promoters. “We’re hoping promoters will give us a portion of their door.”
Not in the GTA? Not a problem. Sawh says the campaign is looking for businesses, individuals, GSAs and school groups all across the province to participate.
The campaign, he says, is open to “anyone that wants to show their love.”
Funds raised go to support the services the phoneline provides for 6,000 young people each year.
It’s money, Sawh explains, that is used to ”break down those walls of isolation and talk to people.”
“One of the things we hear from our callers is there is isolation everywhere.”