Summary of organization/program
Supporting Our Youth (SOY) is an exciting, dynamic community development program designed to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered youth in Toronto through the active involvement of youth and adult communities. We work to create healthy arts, culture and recreational spaces for young people; to provide supportive housing and employment opportunities; and to increase youth access to adult mentoring and support.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered youth in Toronto
- Established: 1998
- Umbrella Organization: Sherbourne Health Centre
- The Toronto Coalition for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth was formed in 1991 as an open network of social service professionals, health care providers, educators, youth, parents, activists and other individuals concerned with improving the quality of life for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in Toronto. The Coalition found that the division between lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults was an issue for Toronto’s queer community. Young people expressed feeling alienated from the community and separated from adults at precisely the time in their lives when they were most vulnerable and isolated. Adults expressed regret that a city the size of Toronto, with its large lesbian, gay and bisexual community, didn’t offer more youth-oriented, youth-focused social and recreational alternatives.
- After forming a volunteer advisory committee and conducting a six-month study to determine the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, the Supporting Our Youth Project was launched in April of 1998. Funded by the Trillium Foundation, Supporting Our Youth was originally developed as a three-year community development project, designed to create opportunities for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in such areas as sports and recreation, arts and culture, employment, and mentoring and housing. Based at Central Toronto Youth Services, a children’s mental health centre in downtown Toronto, this exciting, dynamic project evolved into an ongoing effort, with a variety of innovative initiatives, a hardworking and dedicated staff and enthusiastic, committed volunteers.
- In September 2004, SOY officially became a program of the Sherbourne Health Centre, where we continue to offer the same opportunities for adults and youth to build community together in unique, exciting and creative ways.
Dominant Media Forms
SOY has a community development mandate with a mentoring and cultural/arts focus to reach out to, support, and celebrate queer and trans youth1 from diverse backgrounds. Innovative and dynamic, SOY invites in and draws upon the creativity of queer youth in all aspects of its organization2.
Statement of Principles
SOY develops programs to address the complex social issues faced by queer youth, including untapped creativity, marginalization, rejection/ isolation, neglect/violence, poverty/lack of power and privilege, as well as discrimination and harassment/bashing.
Samples of work
- Fruit Loopz Youth Stage
- a festival of arts, words and ideas for youth, by youth. Presented by SOY in partnership with Pride Toronto, each year, Fruit Loopz becomes home base to a vibrant community of queer and trans youth.
- PInk Ink
- A writing group for queer/trans youth. Pink Ink is a conscious, multi-disciplinary, for-youth-by-youth writing program for queer, transgender, Two Spirit and questioning youth writers in Toronto aged 14-29.
- SOY’s photography project, in partnership with Gallery 44. Facilitated by Chris Ironside, this is a project for queer and trans youth who are interested in learning about photography, camera operation, darkroom printing, and creative expression.
- This year’s program enjoyed three exhibits – at Gallery 44, at SOY’s Fruit Loopz Pride Youth Festival, and finally, in November, at the O’Connor Gallery. In addition, SHIFT photographs were featured on SOY’s annual holiday card, as well as on a series of cards sold at the final exhibit and presented as a gift to all SOY’s volunteers.
Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia (TEACH)
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Youth Toronto (LGBYT)
Mr Leatherman Toronto
Positive Youth Outreach
Pink Triangle Press
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John A.G. Lister, Barrister & Solicitor
TD Canada Trust
Random House of Canada
This Ain’t the Rosedale Library
Toronto Rainbow Lions
Cabbagetown Tour of Homes
Toronto Community Foundation
University of Toronto
Bleecker St Cooperative Homes
Come As You Are
Hot Girl Promo
Darren Z Salon