“We spoke after one of the presentations you gave at our school today. Well, there wasn’t much talking involved since I got pretty choked up. What I was trying to say was thank you. I am queer and I overhear homophobic remarks quite a lot, so I wanted to thank you for educating youth and making schools safer for all. Knowing that there are supportive organizations in the world is overwhelming in the best way possible.”
“Homophobia and bullying are serious issues peoples face in today’s society. The worse it gets, kids eventually stop going to school or drop out. Bullying can eventually lead to suicides in teens.”
“It gives straight students a chance to see into the lives of queer youth.”
“Out in Schools sheds light on emotional and interpersonal issues related to bullying and homophobia within a social and cultural context. The stories appealed to the interests of the audience, stimulating thought, reflection and the sharing of ideas.”
“I am writing to offer my full support behind the outstanding work put on by Out in Schools. As a secondary school film teacher, I am constantly encouraging my film students to express their creativity through the visual arts, yet to always keep in mind that the material they produce must be appropriate for wider audiences. As I watched the films for the Out in Schools: Challenge Homophobia Now! Youth PSA Competition at the Roundhouse Theatre in August, I was thrilled to see that other teachers in the Lower Mainland have a similar mentality. Every film I watched, from the elementary level through to grade 12, demonstrated to me that students had put a lot of thought into how to best spread the message of equality through film. Some films were light-hearted and comedic while others had a more serious tone, yet all the films succeeded in their goal to combat homophobia, which is all too rampant in our schools.
Not only was I impressed with the sophistication of the films, but I also found the Out in Schools “Fierce and Fabulous” event in general to be positive, celebratory, and age-appropriate. From the artwork in the gallery, to the educational materials set up in booths, to the MCs who hosted the evening, not once did I feel that any element of the evening was inappropriate for youth.
Out in Schools promotes equality and multiculturalism and this is in fact one of the mandates of the Vancouver School District. The annual video contest is an excellent way of getting students throughout the district to embrace these social justice issues and stand up against discrimination. I hope that this educational event continues to flourish, as it is perhaps the best anti-homophobia program I have come across during my career in the Vancouver School District.
I am grateful that my students, and many others, have the opportunity to express their creativity in such a positive way.”
“Mr. Johnstone presented his information in a kind, caring, professional manner. He engaged the students by asking them many questions. He also had two films to show which helped raise more awareness regarding homophobia and the isolation that persons in the queer community often experience.”
“As a member of the OiS Advisory Group, I am well aware of the significance a program of this nature can have on the safety and inclusion of a segment of our community which often feels marginalized. There truly is a need for mandatory curriculum in BC which addresses Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered issues. GLBT individuals deserve to study and learn in schools where they feel safe and valued.”
“Between 2007-2011, Out in Schools has come to SIGMA to educate both our Planning 10 classes as well as our Family Studies 11/ 12 class on Homophobia.
These sessions have been professional, educational and perspective changing for many of my students. The videos shown in these sessions never have been inappropriate – they have been emotionally charged, youth-made films, which challenge the ideas behind homophobia. They seek to show the hurt and pain that occurs for so many of the LGBT community. Many of my students have benefited from these presentations as it either shows them a different side of the story, or shows them that they are not alone. Many youth are struggling with their sexuality at the age of 16-19 and having a presentation such as Out in Schools can give them the courage and strength to talk about these issues with their counselors, parents and teachers.
I plan on inviting them to our school again as I believe they are a great benefit to our students and to our school communities.”
“The Vancouver School Board is very grateful for its partnership with Out in Schools in working to promote safe, inclusive and welcoming schools for all students, staff and their families. OiS presentations and workshops are an excellent way of engaging youth in thoughtful and enlightening discussions and the impact of homophobia and educating them about ways to combat it. OiS is helping us carry out our commitment to provide safe learning and working environments, free from harassment and discrimination, while also promoting pro-active strategies and guidelines to ensure that lesbian, gay, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, bisexual and questioning students, employees and families are welcomed and included in all aspects of education and school life and treated with respect and dignity. Thank you OiS for your outstanding work!”
“Out in Schools is a great program. As founder of Carousel Theatre Company and School, I am acutely aware of the need for and unquestioned value of this innovative program. Out in Schools gives tools and hope to those who feel hopeless and adds strength to those who are coping in spite of many challenges. The LGBTQ youth community is empowered by this project as is the wider community informed by the clear information brought forward. As one student said to me after hearing a presentation “now I am not mad at my brother any more”. This program helps young people open up to their families and accept their families. Any bullying is unacceptable and this program brings that maxim home with intelligence and uncensored discussion. Out in Schools should be in every school as they change a culture of confusion and pain. I support this creative and positive life-changing work.”
“One of the key goals of the Vancouver School Board is to make our schools safer, more welcoming and inclusive places for all students to learn. Students cannot learn when they don’t feel safe. Study after study, year after year we discover again, that LGBTQ students, without supports, are at a far greater risk of committing suicide, of being physically harassed, of dropping out of school and becoming street involved. Students have told me how Out in Schools was their lifeline. As a trustee I have seen the positive impact Out in Schools can have on the learning environment in an entire school. The OiS facilitators are engaging and professional and the Teacher’s Learning Resource Guide is a valuable resource. OiS has made a real positive difference in our District, in our schools, and in students’ lives.”
“While gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Canadians have achieved equality under the law, societal discrimination and hate continue. The suicide rate among GLBT youth is staggering; research tells us that GLBT students are four times more likely to commit suicide than straight students. There is strong evidence that the bullying of GLBT youth in schools is a great part of the problem. Clearly, we have more work to do. Out in Schools provides much-needed opportunities for students to discuss bullying and homophobia in the classroom. I have been proud to support this worthwhile program since it began in 2004; Out in Schools facilitators are working hard to end bullying and homophobia in BC high schools.”
“Out in Schools, through film and discussions, provides a very important tool for our schools in addressing bullying, discrimination and homophobia. I would recommend principals, teachers and parent groups to take advantage of the “Out in Schools” program. The available short films are age-appropriate and reflects our varied and diverse school district. The teacher’s guide provides support for educators in teaching the subject and directing them to additional appropriate resources.
The well-produced short films are perfect for triggering discussions around social issues such as bullying; an LGBTQ student coming out to their family or friends; responding to stereotypes; understanding issues in different cultures; etc. The discussion, following the films presentation, allows mature discussions with adults present.
I would urge the Ministry of Education, with School Boards, the BCTF and stakeholders, to continue providing the resources, such as the ones available by “Out in Schools”, of up-to-date, school aged appropriate learning/discussion resources in multiple languages.”
“Out in Schools saves lives. Queer youth are bullied and experience prejudice on a daily basis in their homes, in their communities and in their schools. As an out City Councillor, I support Out in Schools as a way to stop this discrimination. I wish it had been there when I was a student.”