John worked at Supporting Our Youth (SOY), a community development program for 2SLGBTQ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer) youth. At SOY he coordinated a drop-in for homeless and street-involved youth, a group for teenagers, and another group for emerging youth leaders interested in social justice and Human Rights that features a speakers bureau which provides workshops and talks addressing 2SLGBTQ issues.
Supporting Our Youth (SOY) is an exciting, dynamic community development program at the Sherbourne Health Centre. It is 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.
Here are the three groups at SOY that John coordinated.
Monday Night Drop-In
A weekly group where adults and youth create community together. The program supports LGBTTIAQQ2S youth who are homeless, street-involved, and under-housed and/or those looking for community. It's a fun 'queer" space for socializing and connecting with other youth where you can enjoy a home cooked meal. The programming includes art activities, movies, games, workshops, and guest speakers.
An afternoon drop-in for queer and trans youth under age 20.
Human Rights. Equity. Access. Team training empowers 2SLGBTTIAQQ youth under 29 to be speakers, ambassadors and positive role models. We work with school and college faculty to identify concrete ways to make their environments safer and more welcoming for LGBT youth and their peers; we talk directly to school assemblies and classes, as well as SOY groups, about our own experiences of handling oppression; and we highlight for service providers, employers and the wider community, the challenges facing 2SLGBTTIAQQ youth and their peers today and what needs to change – starting with them.
“It was empowering. As an educator I felt ‘here’s what I can do, and here’s why I’m doing it’”.
- Toronto District School Board staff after HEAT presentation
SOY H.E.A.T. youth come from all walks of life and communities. Our experiences – and our talks and workshops – cover not just homophobia and transphobia, but racism, ableism homelessness, and other forms of oppression. We’re still learning what it means to be resilient and to speak out and stand up for what we believe in, but we know from so many of the people that we’ve spoken to that it’s worth it.