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Strike Out Homophobia

Strike Out Homophobia is a fundraiser for The Youth Project with all funds being used for The Youth Projects education programs. The event takes place this Sunday from 1pm-4pm at Fairlanes Bowling in the Halifax Shopping Center. Halifax writer Lee-Anne Poole is hosting the festivities.

How and why did you get involved with Strike Out Homophobia?
I worked on The Youth Projects last fundraiser. Their Annual Fundraising Brunch and Auction, the board of The Youth Project saw the need for another fundraiser to specifically help with the education and outreach programs The Youth Project offers and so we all got back together to brainstorm on what event that could be.

What is the event's core agenda & goals?
It's a bowl-a-thon! Its primary goal is to raise money for an extremely worthy cause and to have fun doing it! The Youth Project is a huge resource to schools, teachers and educators. Students don’t often learn about sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom unless it’s through a Youth Project workshop or education session. Strike out Homophobia will ensure these Education services are still widely available across the province, so that there are fewer barriers to schools in rural provinces who want to do more in fighting homophobia.

Why is it an important event for the LGBTQ community?
The Youth Project is an organization that truly lives its mandate. They are an extremely active and involved organization, and an important one to this community. They are provincial, and have many branches of programs and services and they are youth-led, which means LGBTQ youth are the ones directing what the Youth Project does. It’s important because LGBTQ youth still don’t have enough safe spaces in the schools and communities – recently, the Nova Scotia Cyber-bullying Task Force released a report that identified LGBTQ youth as a number one target of bullying. This is very significant, and the Youth Project uses Education to fight back against ignorance, hatred and fear.  I do think it's important we support them. And it's obvious that our community does as well. Our bowl-a-thon, Strike Out Homophobia, just reached it's fundraising goal of $15,000 and it keeps on climbing!

What is it important for the greater community at large?
The Youth Project works hard to combat transphobia and homophobia in Nova Scotian Schools - in addition to support services, community outreach, and safe social spaces for LGBTQ youth, the Youth Project provides many education services. They offer professional development opportunities for teachers, youth workers, social workers, and healthcare professionals, guides and materials for making classrooms and learning environment welcoming for LGBTQ students and teachers. Maintain an Ally Card Program that connects students with safe and supportive teachers and admin and support the work of Gay/ Straight Alliances throughout Nova Scotia. These serves are important to all of us. Equity is important for everyone, and so is having a safe and welcoming place to learn.

In your estimation, is enough being done by the local/regional arts sector to support and encourage the LGBTQ community?
Enough - it's a funny word. I think we do well. I think we do well at supporting and encouraging each other and I think we do our best when we are not thinking in terms of 'enough'.

What can we be doing better?
Nova Scotia’s communities can be scattered and hard to connect, given our geography. Sometimes it’s more about staying better connected so we can find out what opportunities are out there, who is doing great work, and how we can support each other. We can also keep using the Arts as a vehicle for education, expression, and activism - something Queer youth are very conscious of.

From your perspective, what are the biggest issues currently affecting the LGBTQ community in Atlantic Canada?
Homophobia and transphobia are complex, wide-reaching issues, and they can potentially touch each and every part of a person’s life. From relationships with others, to a school or workplace environment, even the quality of healthcare we receive. When we understand the systemic impacts these can have, and why education on LGBTQ issues is so important, we can start to create safer spaces for ourselves.

What are some solutions to those issues?
The Youth Project is a huge believer in the power of education, and it can often be the first step in creating change. This is why the bowl-a-thon focuses so much on supporting their education services in schools; we need LGBTQ youth to feel safe and be inspired to take action, and they need their peers to understand how to be allies and supporters. Starting this education in school can make life much better for the whole community!

What other LGBTQ events are you involved with this year?
The Youth Project will be hosting Pride Week events, two summer camps, a Gay/Straight Alliance conference and much more this year. They are a very busy group!
Personally, I’m working on a little tour of my show ‘Short Skirt Butch’ and a remount of it here in Halifax in July.

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