IT’S TIME TO LISTEN TO OUR YOUTH!

All kids deserve to be respected at school and to flourish in safe and affirming spaces – especially 2SLGBTQI+ youth! But what we have been seeing is an alarming roll back of protections for our queer and trans youth across Canada. 

Youth are at risk of losing access to inclusive education, the privacy of selecting their own pronouns, and most importantly the freedom to be themselves. As governments and political parties continue to act and speak on behalf of our youth’s interest, no one is consulting with them on the best path forward for their learning environments.

Youth deserve our respect and they deserve to be heard!

Why do youth need to be part of the conversation?

They are most in touch with their current needs.

Challenges youth face change with each generation.

They are at the greatest risk of being impacted by changes to their environment.

“Gender-affirming care and language can be so life-saving. So let’s challenge these systems that deny these human rights”
- Luna Oberlin

What are 2SLGBTQI+ youth saying?

We connected with youth aged 18-24 nationwide to share their messages of what safe and affirming spaces meant to them in their learning environments. Watch our videos below and read more about the current state of what affirming spaces within each province and territory look like today.

Alberta

"Due to the current policies that are about to be enacted in schools a lot of kids are about to be outed against their will before they are ready."

- Elliot (he/they)

  • After foreshadowing it the previous year, Alberta Premier Smith introduced a wave of anti-trans policies targeting trans youth to be implemented in 2024. 
  • These policies are the most broad attacks on trans youth in Canada to date, including barriers to name and pronouns changes at school, gender-affirming care, and sexual health education.
  • Trans people, allies, and community organizations across the country are taking action to oppose these policies through protests, school walkouts, and potential legal challenges should the Alberta government move forward with these policies.
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British Columbia

"I often felt like an outsider. Many of my friends and I didn't go to our school events because of how unsafe and excluded we felt."

- Natalie (they/she/he)

  • BC pioneered SOGI 1 2 3, a resource currently used by all school districts in BC to help foster inclusive schools for 2SLGBTQIA+ students.
  • In 2023, BC became the first province to remove all gendered language from all legislation, moving towards more trans-inclusive policies in schools and beyond.
  • SOGI 1 2 3 and other inclusive resources faced renewed backlash in 2023, with large protests and counter-protests forming.
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Pictured is an aerial view of a river, bridge, and lush green landscape in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Manitoba

  • In 2023, Manitoba’s former leading party promised to introduce anti-trans legislation that would require parent permission for students under 16 to use a different name or pronouns at school. 
  • The recent election of the NDP party allayed this risk, moving Manitoba from a high-risk of anti-trans legislation to low risk.
  • A push to remove books dealing with sexuality and gender identity from school libraries was rejected in 2023 and Manitoba’s largest school division reaffirmed trans youth’s rights to safety and belonging in school.

New Brunswick

"It's important to have those spaces for youth because for me at least I was able to make friends and you know express myself the way I wanted."

- Maisyn Justason (they/them)

Newfoundland and Labrador

"Growing up as a queer student in small-town Newfoundland, I feel as though I wasn’t provided sufficient support that I needed to thrive in school."

- Kaitlin Hefford (they/them)

  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s guidelines for supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ students include practices for respecting students’ autonomy and privacy. 
  • However, Newfoundland youth report that the guidelines are inconsistently applied and challenges related to chosen names in school records, washrooms, curriculum, and an overall lack of understanding still exist.
  • While Newfoundland wasn’t exempt from anti-2SLGBTQIA+ protests in 2023, both liberal and conservative parties spoke up for 2SLGBTQIA+ amidst the rising hate.
Pictured is the Peggy's cove lighthouse in Nova Scotia. in the center is a white lighthouse with a red roof in front of the sea.

Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia’s Education Minister affirmed the province’s support for trans youth, stating that they have no plans to follow the lead of other provinces creating restrictions on trans youths’ rights at school.
  • The province’s guidelines for supporting trans students emphasize student autonomy and have been in place since 2014. 
  • However, many advocates are calling for the decade-old guidelines to be updated to reflect our current social climate and to strengthen their consistent implementation throughout the province.
Pictured is a lush forest surrounding the Cameron River in the Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories

  • The Northwest Territories’ guidelines for supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ students came about in 2017, after consultations at the NWT Rainbow Youth Conference.
  • The territory also offers resources for school staff, including a Gender Support Plan template to ensure trans youth have autonomy in how they wish to be supported.
  • Amidst rising hate, community members rallied in Yellowknife to show solidarity and support for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth.
Pictured is an Inuksuk with clear blue skies and snow on the ground in Nunavut

Nunavut

  • Much of Nunavut’s supports for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth were created from the ground up by fellow 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, such as Positive Space Nunavut, a high school club turned community organization.
  • 2SLGBTQIA+ youth were instrumental in advocating for increased access to gender-affirming care in the territory, achieving this milestone in 2022.
  • 2SLGBTQIA+ youth have advocated for the need for more awareness and support for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in Nunavut schools.

Ontario

“I remember feeling like it’s okay for me to actually exist as I am.”

- Ajhani Azure (he/him)

  • In Ontario, school boards create their own policies for supporting trans students, with some like the TDSB explicitly prioritizing student autonomy while others are more vague. 
  • Following new anti-trans school policies in other provinces, Ontario’s Education Minister signalled that similar policies requiring parental consent for students wishing to use different pronouns or names at school may be introduced.
  • Advocates have opposed these potential policy changes, with prominent groups like the Ontario Principals’ Council and Unifor making statements in support of trans youth.

PEI

"Having queer safe spaces made all the difference growing up, it helped me develop my identity and it helped me grow."

- Keeda (she/they)

  • PEI adopted guidelines for supporting trans students in 2021, specifically outlining trans students’ rights to inclusion and autonomy.
  • Pushback to these guidelines was seen in 2023, with a petition circulating and anti-trans protests.
  • In response to anti-trans protest, PEI education officials released a joint letter affirming support for 2SLGBTQIA+ students.

Quebec

« Durant les cours d'éducation à la sexualité on n'a jamais de la communauté LGBTQ je pense que ça m'aurait beacoup aidé de comprendre que j'suis pas la seule personne à vivre ces choses. »

- Malak (iel)

  • Québec’s guidelines for supporting trans students were released in 2021 with the goal of fostering safe and inclusive schools.
  • Following recent anti-trans protests and statements by Québec’s Education Minister opposing gender-neutral washrooms, the province announced a committee to advise the government on “gender identity issues”.
  • However, many advocates have criticized the 3-person committee for lacking trans representation.

Saskatchewan

"Finally knowing that there was a safe space that I could go to be loud and proud within my queerness was incredibly beneficial."

- Bowie (any pronouns)

  • In 2023, Saskatchewan introduced a new policy that would require parent permission for students under 16 to use a different name or pronouns at school. 
  • The policy was met with pushback from advocates, including the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children & Youth, who stated that the policy violates trans youths’ rights.
  • UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity put forth a legal challenge, and an interim injunction was granted. However, Premier Moe invoked the notwithstanding clause to pass the policy anyway.
Pictured is a wooden sign in nature near a lake and mountain that has text reading " Welcome to Yukon. Larger than life. Plus grand que nature"

Yukon

  • In 2023, the Yukon announced a plan to introduce the SOGI 1 2 3 program into schools, helping to foster inclusive environments for 2SLGBTQIA+ students.
  • The territory’s policy for supporting trans students was first introduced in 2012 and later updated in 2023 to reflect new recommendations from their LGBTQ2S+ Inclusion  Action Plan.
  • While anti-trans protestors gathered in Whitehorse, pro-trans counter-protests rallied in solidarity and outnumbered them.

Share your voice

Take action on your platforms by sharing why affirming spaces matter for 2SLGBTQI+ youth.

We want to hear what affirming spaces mean to you! Share a short video on your social channels in support of why we need to continue creating safe spaces for our 2SLGBTQI+ youth and make sure to use #YouthVoicesWillPrevail.

or

Download our social assets below and share on your channels, letting your network know that #YouthVoicesWillPrevail!

Share Our Campaign Assets and Create Your Own!

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Create your own video!

Instructions

  1. Check your video parameters and setup
  2. If you’d like to use our greenscreen template please add in the greenscreen filter on the app of your choice
  3. Begin by introducing yourself and your pronouns
    Share your personal experiences or perspectives about the need for safe spaces in schools for queer youth
  4. Finish your video by encouraging others to share their own videos using #YouthVoicesWillPrevail
#YouthVoicesWIllPrevail
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Sample Video Script

Hello Canada, my name is Elise Roopchan. I use she/her pronouns and I want to talk about the importance of safe spaces in schools. Growing up in Ontario I was lucky that my school provided safe spaces for queer students and was open about their allyship. Having a school that was committed to inclusivity really helped eliminate the fear I felt as a queer kid. Creating a culture amongst the staff and students at school that encouraged celebrating and respecting different sexualities or genders made me feel less alone. School was the first place I felt comfortable expressing my identity and living as my authentic self when I wasn’t out to my family yet. A lot of decisions are being made about 2SLGBTQ+ youth without consulting youth themselves. Queer youth deserve to be respected, validated, and comfortable in their schools and youth voices cannot be silenced or removed from these conversations. Safe spaces save lives and every child deserves to thrive as their authentic selves. Use #YouthVoicesWillPrevail and share your story to let people in Canada know that youth voices deserve to be heard!

Sample Caption

2SLGBTQ+ youth deserve to be respected and feel safe in schools. Join me in answering “What access to safe and affirming spaces meant to you as a queer high school student” and share your own video using #YouthVoicesWillPrevail and keep the conversation going!

How to support

#YouthVoicesWillPrevail is brought to you by the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, It Gets Better Canada, and LGBT Youthline. Help us continue to drive our missions focused on supporting 2SLGBTQI+ youth, by clicking on the links below to learn more about our work and to donate to our individual causes.

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This website was made possible with the support from It Gets Better Project, a non-profit organization working to uplift, empower, and connect 2SLGBTQ+ youth around the globe.